March 12, 2013

DRI Quantum Leap in a T1D Biological Cure

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dri_biohub“Quantum Leap” was a show about Dr. Sam Beckett, a quantum physicist who experienced time travel in his own lifetime.

The DRI is  forging time travel for people with T1D by developing the BioHub. In a world where the conventional diabetes treatments have been stuck in a time loop, the BioHub  proposes a biological cure for our lifetime.

The BioHub is a bioengineered “mini organ” that contains insulin-producing cells that can sense blood sugar and release the precise amount of insulin needed in real time.

Islet cell transplants have been used for decades with success. However, patients must use anti-rejection medications to ward-off the autoimmune attack that caused T1D in the first place. The BioHub provides an accommodative and protective environment for the transplanted islets to survive and flourish.

The BioHub is the size of a quarter. The placement of the BioHub will be internally, unlike an insulin pump. It will go inside the body with a procedure that places the “mini organ” in a part of the abdomen. This may be a better location than islets transfused into the liver, in an islet cell transplant.

One of the pioneers of islet cell transplantation is Dr. Camillo Ricordi. In 2011, he was mentioned on Grey’s Anatomy for his forward-thinking device, the Ricordi Chamber. This device helps more efficiently harvest cells for islet cell transplants.

Insofar as the sourcing of islets, the DRI is considering options involving stem cells, reprogrammed cells from the patient’s own body, and biologically similar porcine cells. This may be the most challenging part of the BioHub but I have no doubt that the DRI will find a way to make it happen.

” I am confident that this approach could move cellular therapies and biological replacement strategies for the cure of diabetes to our final goal,” says Camillo Ricordi. If anybody could make a statement that gives hope to bringing us closer to the final goal of curing T1D — you’d want to hear it from this man.

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