Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have successfully built 3d printed scaffolds to increase the success rate of an experimental method used to help Type 1 diabetes patients.
Around five percent of diabetes patients suffer from Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes which are often diagnosed in children and young adults. During a type 1 diabetes, the body is incapable of producing insulin, a hormone used to convert starches, sugar and other substances.
One experimental method utilized to enable the human body to recoup and reproduce insulin is called Pancreatic Islet Transplantation, a method in which a group of cells are transferred from a donated pancreas. However, during a Pancreatic Islet Transplantation, patients must take doses of immunosuppressant drugs to avoid the transplanted cells from being attacked by the pre-existent cells in the body.
Quite often, Type 1 diabetes patients suffer from a condition known as hypoglycemia which refers to the low levels of glucose in the blood. The scaffolds developed by the researchers at the University of Twente embed islets into a mixture of gelatin and alginate, thus increasing the success rate of pancreatic islet transplantation and decreasing the potentially lethal effects of hypoglycemia.
The team of researchers led by Dr. Aart van Apeldoorn named the process bioplotting as it is a 3d printed structure that enables an efficient swapping of glucose and insulin.
Dr. Aart van Apeldoorn, a co-author of the research, explained “If we are to improve the success of this treatment for Type 1 diabetes, we need to create an implant in which islets are embedded, or encapsulated, from a material that allows for very efficient oxygen and nutrient supply, and quick exchange of glucose and insulin, while keeping the host cells out.”