Scientists seek to implant insulin-producing cells into type 1 diabetics

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Crystal Nyitray believes she can make living with type 1 diabetes less of a burden.

By implanting living, insulin-producing cells under the skin of patients, Nyitray’s biotechnology startup Encellin could eliminate the need for diabetics to regularly perform blood-sugar tests and receive insulin injections.

Other researchers have attempted a similar approach, according to NPR, but the recipients’ immune systems reacted harshly to the transplanted cells and most patients still eventually needed insulin injections.

Nyitray’s method is different because it encases live islet cells from the pancreas inside a flexible membrane, which allows the insulin and blood sugar to pass through but keeps the recipient’s immune system out. It has shown promising results in animal trials.

"Our next big step is to demonstrate this in humans," Nyitray told NPR. "Our hope is to put this in the clinic in the next couple of years."

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