Prospective: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune illness wherein the physique would not naturally produce insulin, resulting in dangerously excessive blood sugar ranges. A staff of researchers has unveiled a pair of gadgets that use this suggestions loop to autonomously handle medical situations.
Researchers at ETH Zurich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) not too long ago unveiled a gas cell that makes use of extra glucose (blood sugar) to generate electrical energy when implanted within the physique. It has the potential to energy different medical implants, together with people who robotically handle sort 1 diabetes.
The diabetes administration implant the staff examined in 2016 consisted of a capsule containing synthetic beta cells. When stimulated with electrical energy or blue LED lights, the cells can secrete and launch insulin autonomously, making it simpler for sufferers to manage blood sugar ranges.
So far, the system lacks a usable energy supply. The researchers’ answer is a teabag-like gas cell implant (the header) that converts extra blood sugar, probably from carbohydrates, into power.
Click to enlarge
The gas cell’s outer coating consists of a medically accepted algae product referred to as alginate, which absorbs bodily fluids and lets glucose into the cell. The copper nanoparticles that make up the gas cell break down glucose into gluconic acid and protons to generate power.
Once excessive blood sugar is detected, the gas cell prompts, telling the beta cells to launch insulin. When glucose ranges return to regular, the cells robotically deactivate. Additionally, it may be linked to a cell utility, giving sufferers and medical professionals higher management over its operation.
For many years, researchers have theorized the idea of self-regulating biofuel cells. The American Society for Artificial Internal Organs revealed a paper in 1968 outlining a battery that might harness power from the human physique to energy a pacemaker with out the necessity for a battery or different exterior energy supply. Advances in expertise could lastly flip principle into actuality.
Unfortunately, with out the assets of exterior backers, ETH Zurich lacked the cash and manpower to carry its concept to market. Also, it solely examined its machine on mice. Further testing and funding is more likely to be a good distance off earlier than gas cells can assist deal with diabetes in people.
The full ETH Zurich examine is freely out there on science information outlet Advanced Materials.