3D Printing May Be Key to Developing Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes

A 3D printing technique known as bioplotting could be the key to helping researchers find a cutting edge treatment for Type 1 Diabetes.

Approximately one-third of people with insulin dependent diabetes deal with episodes where their blood sugar drops dangerously low. Now, researchers are considering ways to transplant cells directly into the pancreas to stop these hypoglycemic episodes with the help of 3D technology.

According to IOP, who just published the research in their journal Biofabrication, at a lab in the Netherlands, “clusters of specialized cells responsible for the production of insulin and glucagon in the pancreas, called islets of Langerhans, have successfully been 3D printed into a scaffold. It is hoped that the scaffolds can be transplanted into patients with type 1 diabetes to help regulate blood sugar levels and avoid ‘hypos.'”

One of researchers on the project said that the next step will be to develop an implant to be placed directly in the pancreas of those with diabetes.

Dr A A van Apeldoorn also stressed that research like this is only possible with the collaboration of experts in both medicine and technology.

“This work is a nice example of how collaboration between different research groups can lead to interesting and perhaps unexpected outcomes,” he said. “With the help of Dr L Moroni at our university and Dr J Alblas from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht we were able to develop the printing method. Dr E de Koning and his group at the Hubrecht Institute were very helpful in allowing us to use their mouse intravital imaging setup to visualize the islets in the 3D constructs.”

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