IIT team makes ‘implantable pancreas’

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have successfully created an implantable bioartificial pancreas model grown within a 3D silk scaffold. The “pancreas”, which encapsulates insulin-producing cells, is capable of naturally producing insulin in a sustained manner. If successful in animal and human trials, it can be used for treating people with type 1 diabetes.

The silk scaffold was found to be biocompatible (not toxic to living tissue) as it did not trigger any immune reaction or cause any adverse reaction when implanted. The team led by Prof. Biman Mandal from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Guwahati coated the scaffold containing beta cells with a semi-permeable membrane barrier. The membrane allows insulin produced to be released into the blood stream but does not allow the immune cells to cross the membrane and kill the islet cells.

Since type 1 diabetes patients do not have insulin-producing beta cells, the researchers have turned to stem cells to produce beta cells. “We have already used stem cells that have differentiated [produce specialised cells] into beta-like cells producing insulin,” says Manishekhar Kumar, the first author of the paper from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering at IIT Guwahati. The results of the study were published in the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering .

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