> Diabetes Research > Seaweed Capsules Can Aid Insulin-Cell Transplant Recipients

Seaweed Capsules Can Aid Insulin-Cell Transplant Recipients

Scientists at the Johns Hopkins University are testing mice and pigs for insulin encased in seaweed capsules and iron to help those with type 1 diabetes whose bodies have rejected their transplanted insulin-cells.

Two separate experiments were done to understand what happens to insulin-cells after they have been transplanted and why the transplants work for some people and not for others. In the first experiment, insulin was encapsulated with alginate, a substance derived from seaweed, and iron to be able to monitor the cells magnetically. The capsules where then implanted in diabetic mice and were found that the blood sugar levels of the mice returned to normal just after a week. Half of the mice that did not receive the seaweed transplants died.

Pigs underwent the same procedure, except that the capsules were now implanted in the liver instead in the pancreas as more blood vessels could help carry the insulin to the rest of the body. Researchers report that after three weeks, the capsules were still in place and were producing usable amounts of insulin.

The study was done in the hope that the capsules will reduce the need for anti-rejection drugs in people receiving transplants. Initially funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, researchers are now working on a longer-term trial in pigs and are working with a private company to begin the process of seeking Food and Drug Administration approval.

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