An implantable ‘micro-pancreas’ with the ability to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels has been created by Israeli scientists.
Betalin Therapeutics has tested the technology on animals with some success and is now looking to raise enough funds to be able to put it through clinical trials.
It combines cells and a biological scaffolding, which situates those cells and mimics their natural environment.
The engineered micro-pancreas would be implanted into someone with diabetes and work as a replacement pancreas for insulin functions. The company says it would last for two years and could then be replaced.
The firm says it would cost $40,000 per implant if it was brought to the market.
The company’s head of research and development Avi Treves said: “We replace the damaged tissue with functional new, functioning tissues, dead pancreas with a new pancreas which is engineered in the laboratory and implanted under the skin of the patient.”
Extensive experiments on mice have proved that the concept works. Speaking to the website Xinhua, Dr Treves said: “The moment that we were convinced it’s working and that it’s going to be a product is when we saw the mice which were sick, the glucose level sky-rocketing, and [then] implanting the micro-pancreas, glucose levels go down, and the mice continue to run happily. That was an enlightening moment.”
Ten other companies are working on a similar concept. Dr Treves added: “We are a small company and we want to focus and have the first product in the market and then dream about others.”