Researchers from Cornell University, New York, have found a way to make a state-of-the-art treatment for type 1 diabetes more effective.
Encapsulated islet cells is a developing field of type 1 diabetes treatment. The treatment involves having insulin-producing islet cells implanted under the skin. The islet cells are live cells that require nutrients from the body and in return produce insulin.
The central problem in type 1 diabetes is that the immune system is programmed to kill insulin producing cells. This is why transplants do not actually cure type 1 diabetes.
Encapsulated islet cells tackle this issue by coating islet cells within a protective barrier that keeps the immune system from destroying the cells whilst allowing oxygen and nutrients from the body to keep the islet cells alive.
A number of research teams have been developing different forms of encapsulated islet cells. What makes the technique used by the Cornell research team different is the use of a doughnut-shaped vortex ring. This reduces the distance that nutrients need to travel to get to the islet cells and therefore improves the health of the precious cells.
The team set out to find a way of finding a robust and scalable way of producing uniform vortex ring-derived particles. By using an ‘electrospraying’ technique the researchers were able to produce 15,000 vortex-derived nanoparticles per minute. The technique allowed them to ‘freeze’ the vortex rings at just the right time to achieved the intended doughnut-ring shape.
The researchers have published the results of their findings in the Nature Communications journal.

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