Curtin University researchers are a step closer to establishing a way for people with type-1 diabetes to introduce insulin into the body without the need for injections, through the development of a unique microcapsule.
People with type-1 diabetes, a condition where the immune system destroys cells in the pancreas, generally have to inject themselves with insulin daily and test glucose levels multiple times a day.
Dr Hani Al-Salami from Curtin’s School of Pharmacy is leading the collaborative project using cutting-edge microencapsulation technologies to design and test whether microcapsules are a viable alternative treatment for people with type-1 diabetes.
“Since 1921, injecting insulin into muscle or fat tissue has been the only treatment option for patients with type-1 diabetes,” Al-Salami says.
“The ideal way to treat the illness, however, would be to have something, like a microcapsule, that stays in the body and works long-term to treat the uncontrolled blood glucose associated with diabetes.”
The microcapsule contains pancreatic cells which can be implanted in the body and deliver insulin to the blood stream.
“We hope the microcapsules might complement or even replace the use of insulin in the long-term, but we are still a way off. Still, the progress is encouraging and quite positive for people with type-1 diabetes,” Al-Salami says.
Researchers say the biggest challenge in the project to date has been creating a microcapsule that could carry the cells safely, for an extended period of time, without causing an unwanted reaction by the body such as inflammation or graft failure.
“We are currently carrying out multiple analyses examining various formulations and microencapsulating methods, in order to ascertain optimum engineered microcapsules capable of supporting cell survival and functionality,” Al-Salami says.
– Susanna Wolz