Home Type 1 Bioengineers seek new approach to diabetes treatment – News Center

Bioengineers seek new approach to diabetes treatment – News Center

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Monday, April 29, 2024 • Brian Lopez:
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The University of Texas at Arlington's chair of bioengineering is working on an invention that could enable better treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes.

Michael Cho's recently patented approach could help doctors increase the survival rate and effectiveness of islet cell transplants. Pancreatic islet cells produce insulin and are located in the pancreas.

Currently, for Type 1 patients, a successful islet cell transplant means they can live without insulin for up to five years, and the patient is classified as cured. However, islet cells usually only survive for about three days outside the pancreas, so the transplant must be done quickly.

Cho's invention essentially stimulates islet cells with selected wavelengths of light, which he and his graduate researchers found increased insulin production and the longevity of cells outside the pancreas. did. Those who received the pre-treated islets were able to live without insulin for more than five years.

“Physicians will be able to spend more time evaluating and determining which patients are better recipients of donor islet cells,” said Alfred R. said Cho, Potvin and Janet H. Potvin Endowed Chair. “Currently, FDA-approved islet transplant surgery offers the best hope for patients with type 1 diabetes.”

The next step for Cho and his team is to conduct experiments to test the new protocol.

“It's very exciting,” said Kelly Falls, one of Cho's doctoral students. “You can see how what we do in the lab impacts people’s lives.”

Anne Alsup, also a PhD student, said her role is to find ways to repair islet cells that may be damaged, which will help the pancreas function as best as possible, among other things. He said that this would lead to new research fields.

“While this can be seen as a small incremental step forward, it could lead significantly to other, larger discoveries,” Alsup said.

Mia Grubbs, a first-year doctoral student, said Cho and the rest of the team have given her valuable experience.

“My ultimate dream is to contribute to something that can change the lives of many people,” she said.

Diabetes is one of the most common diseases in this country, affecting approximately 11% of Americans. Approximately 2 million Americans have type 1 diabetes. In Texas, approximately 12% of the population has diabetes.

“We are making progress, but there is no silver bullet yet,” Cho said. “Our recent discoveries, supported by our bright and dedicated graduate students and supported by the Alfred R. Potvin Fund and the Janet H. Potvin Fund, are contributing meaningfully to this effort. I'm excited and happy.”

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