Diabetes is currently the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 25.8 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 5% of these individuals have type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as diabetes mellitus, is the result of autoimmune destruction of insulin-secreting β-cells. Our lab is currently researching the production of a bioartificial pancreas as an
improved means of treatment. This device ingeniously regulates blood glucose levels by simulating an actual pancreas, thereby sensing glucose levels and properly secreting a fitting amount of insulin.
Our research uses a construct which contains insulin-secreting mouse cells located within bioinert material. This removable construct contains a radioactive coil, which permits NMR to monitor viability,
structural integrity, and cell function, along with many other useful predictions of functional failure of the biological component. The bioartificial pancreatic construct, which is injected introperitoneally,
has successfully produced normoglycemia in diabetic mice. Further work is required in order to improve the integrity, longevity, and viability of the construct. My project will specifically focus on the study
of materials and manufacturing technique’s influence on the structural integrity. Other information such as quantitative measurements of permeability and compressibility of the alginate may enhance the
constructs survivability. This critical information may move this device one step close towards clinical application. . Other crucial information for investigation includes methods to reverse degradation, possibly
by removing the alginate and studying the structural upkeep in day-to-day exposure, thus mimicking in vivo situations.