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3D Printing Technology May Soon Help Type 1 Diabetes Patients

Paige Anne Carter



Type 1 diabetes is a condition wherein the pancreas does not produce insulin necessary for delivering sugar to the cells to be converted into energy. Most patients with Type 1 diabetes usually show signs of the disease when they are still in their youth.

To date, Type 1 diabetes patients use insulin therapy together with other treatments to manage their condition and live healthy and long lives. However, scientists may have the solution for Type 1 diabetes through 3D bioprinting.

Researchers from the University of Twente in the Netherlands were able to build scaffolds that will help improve the pancreatic islet transplantation through embedding the islets with a mixture of gelatin and alginate. This will serve as the material that will be implanted on the islets. The islets of Langerhans are part of the pancreas that is responsible for the production of insulin.

The new process developed was called bioplotting which allows the 3D structure optimum exchange of insulin and glucose. Dr. Aart an Apeldoorn – one of the co-authors of the study – noted that the scaffold can block antibodies that destroy the pancreas but it has a mesh large enough to allow the insulin molecules to diffuse through.

Laboratory results showed that the 3D printed islets as well as scaffolds are capable in performing the functions of the real islet cells. Moreover, they also provide protection against the response of the immune system considering that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease.

This research still has a long way to go but the researchers are really positive that it can help many people once they perfect the technology.


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