A team of Strasbourg scientists have developed a prototype for a bio-artificial pancreas after 20 years of research. Clinical trials will begin at the end of 2015 or early 2016 in Montpellier and Oxford (United Kingdom) for results expected in 2017. This project is being piloted by the European Centre for Diabetic Studies (ECDS).
The 25 million type I diabetics across the world will no longer be obliged to inject themselves with insulin every day but can have a bio-artificial pancreas implanted in their abdomen: “the hormone will be produced naturally by pancreatic cells (obtained by genetic engineering or from stem cells), placed inside the artificial pouch”. The idea of “protecting” pancreatic cells in a membrane follows on from transplants in patients of pancreatic cells “intended to compensate for the defective pancreas”, which requires anti-rejection treatment “with considerable side effects”. The bio-artificial pancreas should be replaced “every 4 to 6 years”.
The scope for this research is particularly vast as the disease advances “at a remarkable rate” in developed countries, explained Dr. Pinget, Head of the ECDS. In 2010, 1,850 new cases of diabetes were reported each month in Europe. This represents a six-fold increase compared to the 1990s.