Lots of news about islet or beta cells … all very promising research!

Healthy islets of Langerhans cells — hormone-secreting cells of the pancreas. Granules inside these cells release insulin and other substances into the blood. Steve Gschmeissner/Science Source


These Pancreatic Cells Can Be Made into Beta Cells, reported by Joslin Communications, 21 September, 2017.  Dr. Bonner-Weir and her team have found that ductal cells – the ones that transport enzymes — have a particularly easy time remembering what it was like to be a progenitor cell. And, in fact, they can be nudged backwards into their progenitor cell state – and then stimulated to differentiate into insulin-producing beta cells.  Read more: These Pancreatic Cells Can Be Made into Beta Cells

A Quest: Insulin-Releasing Implant For Type-1 Diabetes, heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, 6 November 2017.  Scientists in California think they may have found a way to transplant insulin-producing cells into diabetic patients who lack those cells — and protect the little insulin-producers from immune rejection. Crystal Nyitray, founder and CEO of the biotechnology startup Encellin, in San Francisco, has developed a system, one of several promising approaches under development, hasn’t yet been tested in people. Nyitray and colleagues designed a system that would encase live islet cells from the pancreas in a flexible membrane that could be implanted under the skin. Insulin and blood sugar could pass through the membrane, but cells from the recipient’s immune system would be kept out, preventing immune rejection. 

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A 180-Day CGM: Senseonics’ Eversense XL Approved in Europe, as reported on diaTribe.org, 18 October 2017.  

Senseonics’ Eversense XL continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system, featuring an implanted sensor with extended life of up to 180 days, has been approved in Europe. This decision doubles the previously-approved 90-day wear time, meaning that the sensor can be used more than 12 times longer than any other CGM sensor available in Europe.  Senseonics plans to launch Eversense XL in Europe later this year. In the US, the 90-day version remains under FDA review, with a possible approval later this year or in early 2018. Read more: A 180-Day CGM: Senseonics’ Eversense XL Approved in Europe


What Does Insulin Smell Like? Read about all you ever wanted to know about the smell of insulin in this great article by Larissa Zimberoff on ASweetLife.org, October 2017.

Insulin smells the way it does because manufacturers add phenol to it. Once added, the compound helps to stabilize it and it also acts as both an antiseptic and disinfectant in the liquid, which most of us use over the course of numerous injections. The NIH tells us exactly what to expect when we drop a vial on the floor: “a sweet tarry odor that resembles a hospital smell.” And there’s a reason it’s familiar. You’ll find phenol listed in the ingredients on a host of everyday products like sunscreen, cosmetics, and mouthwash.

There are other purposes for these chemical additives. “Insulin is a protein, and as a protein, it is much more susceptible to degradation by bacteria or free-floating protease enzymes than a small molecule drug like aspirin or ibuprofen,” says Patrik D’haeseleer at the Open Insulin Project.

Dr. Michael Weiss, a researcher at Case Western Reserve University who has made a career of working with insulin, says, “With more stable insulin analogs, they [anti-microbial preservatives] would not be needed.” His side company, Thermaline, is working on several insulin analogs that will be significantly more stable; in fact the scientist is working on insulin that won’t need to be refrigerated. (I’m waiting for glucose responsive insulin, which Thermaline is also working on.)

Read more: What Does Insulin Smell Like?

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