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Nanotechnology could help fight diabetes
Date:5/16/2013

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Injectable nanoparticles developed at MIT may someday eliminate the need for patients with Type 1 diabetes to constantly monitor their blood-sugar levels and inject themselves with insulin.

The nanoparticles were designed to sense glucose levels in the body and respond by secreting the appropriate amount of insulin, thereby replacing the function of pancreatic islet cells, which are destroyed in patients with Type 1 diabetes. Ultimately, this type of system could ensure that blood-sugar levels remain balanced and improve patients' quality of life, according to the researchers.

"Insulin really works, but the problem is people don't always get the right amount of it. With this system of extended release, the amount of drug secreted is proportional to the needs of the body," says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor of chemical engineering and member of MIT's Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.

Anderson is the senior author of a paper describing the new system in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano. Lead author of the paper is Zhen Gu, a former postdoc in Anderson's lab. The research team also includes Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT, and researchers from the Department of Anesthesiology at Boston Children's Hospital.

Mimicking the pancreas

Currently, people with Type 1 diabetes typically prick their fingers several times a day to draw blood for testing their blood-sugar levels. When levels are high, these patients inject themselves with insulin, which breaks down the excess sugar.

In recent years, many researchers have sought to develop insulin-delivery systems that could act as an "artificial pancreas," automatically detecting glucose levels and secreting insulin. One approach uses hydrogels to measure and react to glucose levels, but those gels are slow to respond or lack mechanical
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Contact: Sarah McDonnell
s_mcd@mit.edu
617-253-8923
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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