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Theoretically, patients suffering from diabetes (type 1) healed by using cells that produce insulin. Practically this does not work though. The patient's immune system would attack and destroy the foreign cells. Researchers at the MIT's MITKI have now come closer to solving this problem. From algae they developed a kind of protective cover in which the insulin-producing cells are safe from an immune reaction. The "bunkers" consist of a gel that is extracted from brown algae and serves as a structural element of the cell walls. The scientists also found that pancreatic cells derived from human stem cells grow well within the beads. Molecules such as insulin or proteins can diffuse outward through the gel, as well as the cells inside respond to body signals. In the lab, mice could be cured for six months using this method - a good result compared to their average lifespan of two years.

At the beginning of 2016, Harvard scientists are releasing a similar therapy: They have worked the cells of the stomach outlet to become insulin-producing beta cells. If they implanted mice with the minors grown from these cells, they successfully took over the regulation of blood sugar levels.

Photo: Andrew Bader, PhD, Omid Veiseh, PhD, Arturo Vegas, PhD, Daniel Anderson, PhD. And Robert Langer, PhD, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT, Cambridge, MA.

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