Diabetes, Heart and Cardiovascular Diseases News Chronicle.  Diabetes, Cardiovascular and Heart Diseases
 Article 318
    Published on April 2, 2018

TRAFFIC, a Retrievable and Scalable Cell Encapsulation Device for the treatment of type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes patients are at risk of both hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia events. Transplanting insulin-producing islet cells into a type 1 diabetes (T1D) patient to produce insulin is an alternative to insulin therapy. But the administration of the long-term immunosuppressive drug is required in the islet transplanting technique. Another method is transplanting them into the human organ after coating and encapsulating insulin-producing islet cells into hundreds of thousands of tiny hydrogel capsules. But there are a tumour or tumor risks with the failed or dead transplanted islet cells in the body and they should be removed. Removing thousands of failed or dead tiny capsules from the human organ is not an easy task.

Researchers have developed an ingenious method for the treatment of type I diabetes in a patient. They successfully designed a potentially game-changing medical device named as TRAFFIC (Thread-Reinforced Alginate Fiber For Islets enCapsulation). In this new device, researchers coated islet cells with a thin hydrogel and attached all of them to a polymer thread called as TRAFFIC. With this device

  • It is easier to implant thousands of islet cells into type 1 diabetes (T1D) patient to produce insulin in response to sugar or glucose levels in the bloodstream.
  • It is easier to remove all failed or dead implanted islet cells from the body and replace them with new insulin-producing islet cells.

Transplantation of six feet of TRAFFIC containing insulin-producing islet cells into the peritoneal cavity of the type 1 diabetes (T1D) patient requires a minimally invasive laparoscopic surgical procedure.

Researchers have conducted experiments to check blood glucose or sugar control among mice models with type 1 diabetes (T1D) by implanting one-inch length of TRAFFIC. They observed normal glucose levels within two days. They also found continuous normal blood sugar or glucose levels for at least three months.

They have conducted another experiment with dog models to check removal and replacement of TRAFFIC. Researchers were successful in implanting and removing 10-inch TRAFFIC from its body. They used laparoscopic surgery (also called as minimally invasive surgery) in this process. They have conducted these surgical experiments with multiple devices and found minimal stickiness between the surrounding tissue and the device.

Following are the major features in the technique involved in TRAFFIC device.

  • Minimally reactive.
  • Offers protection to insulin-producing islet cells with a thin coating of the hydrogel.
  • Allow islet cells to sense glucose levels in the bloodstream.
  • Do not attach to anything while implanting or removing.
  • Can be removed and replaced easily once islets life is over.

The device has got patent protection and the study has got support from the following organizations.

  • American Diabetes Association, Arlington, Virginia.
  • Cornell Stem Cell Program Seed Fund, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
  • Cornell Technology Acceleration and Maturation (CTAM) Fund, Ithaca, New York.
  • National Science Foundation (NSF), Alexandria, Virginia.

TRAFFIC device for type 1 diabetes treatment to produce insulin to prevent hyperglycemia hypoglycemia.

Co-lead authors of the research group were Duo An and Alan Chiu, Doctoral students. The leader of the research group was Minglin Ma, an Assistant Professor, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The study findings were published December 25, 2017, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Title of the paper was "Designing a Retrievable and Scalable Cell Encapsulation Device for Potential Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes." DOI : doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1708806115

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