Israeli scientists back ‘micro-pancreas’ to cure diabetes

Scientists working on an implantable ‘micro-pancreas’ with the ability to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels will start testing it on humans at the beginning of next year in the UK.

Israeli firm Betalin Therapeutics is planning for the technology to take part in human clinical trials, having already tested the technology on animals with success.

For type 1 and type 2 diabetes

The company says the “bio-artificial” pancreas can be used by people with type 2 diabetes who need insulin injections, as well as people who live with type 1.

The “bio-artificial” pancreas works by combining insulin-producing beta cells and a biological scaffolding, which is adapted from pig lung tissue. These hold beta cells which release insulin according to a person’s blood glucose levels.

The engineered micro-pancreas would be implanted under the skin on the thigh under local anaesthetic, acting as a replacement pancreas for insulin functions. It is just visible to the naked eye.

Likely cost

The company says it would last for two years and could then be replaced, with the cost likely to be US$40,000 per implant.

The company said it would be aiming to have the product available by 2024.

Betalin chief executive Nikolai Kunicher said: “Our unique technology allows the body to heal itself. For now, the focus is on diabetes, but there are many more diseases that we intend to cure with the aid of this technology.”

Two Nobel laureates in chemistry, both living with diabetes, are part of Betalin’s advisory committee.

Join our community of over 33,000 people living with diabetes