Scientists have developed a certain, new implantable device that can monitor build-up of acid in diabetics as well as produce necessary amount of insulin. Those people who have type 1 diabetes are especially at risk of high acid levels in their body. Their bodies end up not producing insulin, the hormone which regulates blood sugar levels so that the cells cannot really absorb any glucose from the bloodstream. They also have to tap into another energy source i.e. the fat reserves.
If a person with type 2 diabetes does not notice the lack of insulin or does not seek timely treatment, he/she can die from ketoacidosis, which is a metabolic shock that results from an excess of beta-hydroxybutyrate, a certain acid that supplies muscles as well as brain with energy through the bloodstream.
Keeping the gravity of the situation in mind, the bioengineers from ETH Zurich’s Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering in Basel have now come up with a new implantable molecular device that comprises two modules, namely, a sensor that measures blood pH from time to time and a gene feedback mechanism that produces the needed amount of insulin.
The modules were constructed from different biological components such as proteins and genes. These were then incorporated into cultivated renal cells. The researchers then embedded millions of customized cells in capsules that were used as implants in the body. The device has a pH sensor, which measures the blood’s precise acidity and reacts sensitively to minor deviations from the ideal pH value.
If the pH values fall below 7.35, the sensor can transmit a signal to trigger insulin production. Such low value of pH is specific for type 1 diabetes, though the blood pH is also likely to drop because of alcohol abuse or exercise on account of over-acidification of the muscles, it prevents itself from falling below 7.35.
Once the blood pH has returned to the normal range, the sensor tries to turn itself off and the reprogrammed cells stop insulin production. The invention has already been tested in mice with type 1 diabetes and related acidosis. As for now, the results look promising. The mice seemed to produce the amount of insulin levels naturally and the implant was also compensated for larger deviations in blood sugar.
Article source: Financial Express
Image courtesy: Getty
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