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A breakthrough in diabetes type 1 research could mean replacing needles with healthy cells inside the body.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) have found that implanting healthy cells into the body of mice-and protecting these cells with a device-could mean that human type 1 diabetes patients would no longer need insulin injections in the future.
In this study, beta cells, or cells that produce insulin, were inserted into the pancreas, along with a device that blocks attacks from the body. The mice were able to release the insulin their body needed for six months without interruption or destruction of the cells. Implanting beta cells could also be safer than injecting insulin, according to the study. Injecting insulin makes personalizing treatment to match a patient’s exact needs difficult, according to the Harvard Gazette. This can mean a patient is not adequately treated and can still face the effects of long-term type 1 diabetes, such as blindness.