“Artificial Pancreas” Device From MIT Could Transform Diabetes Treatment

In a major development for individuals living with diabetes, a new device capable of mitigating the scar tissue that is typically caused by insulin-releasing implantables is making its way to market. Indeed, in an effort to find a way to avoid triggering the foreign body response that often occurs with implantable devices, MIT engineers and other collaborators have come up with a device that solves this problem.

In a study conducted using mice, they found that mechanical actuation used in a soft robotic device led to that device having a much longer shelf-life than comparable drug-delivery implants. The mechanical deviation that this solution hinges on is inflation and deflation for roughly five minutes twice a day. This method also keeps immune cells for clustering near implantable devices. Additional research is needed to verify an ambitious vocation for the new device—it could be used as a bioartificial pancreas in the ongoing fight against diabetes.

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“We’re using this type of motion to extend the lifetime and the efficacy of these implanted reservoirs that can deliver drugs like insulin, and we think this platform can be extended beyond this application,” said Ellen Roche, a member of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. Roche, the co-senior author of the study, shares credit with Eimear Dolan, a faculty member at the National University of Ireland at Galway. Funding for this research undertaking was provided by the National Institutes of Health, Science Foundation Ireland, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.