TIANJIN, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Chinese researchers have achieved a breakthrough in developing a new type of hydrogel material for type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) treatment, according to a research team from Tianjin University.
Islets can be coated with the new hydrogel which can serve as an excellent immunoprotective material for islet transplantation therapy, said the research group led by Zhang Lei, professor of the university's chemical engineering and technology school.
T1DM is a chronic disease affecting around 30 million people worldwide. Transplantation of encapsulated islets is a promising treatment for the patients.
According to Zhang, the encapsulated islets can maintain their glucose-responsive and insulin-producing functions. The hydrogel can effectively evade in vivo immune recognition after being implanted in the experimental mice with T1DM.
In the experiment, 100 percent of the mice rapidly recovered to a stable blood sugar level within 2 days and remained at least 150 days without any immunosuppression treatment, in contrast with the traditional hydrogel that required 5 to 7 days to achieve blood sugar control, maintaining only for around 20 days.
Zhang said the new type of hydrogel has significant advantages in speed and stability of blood sugar control. "It's easy to produce it with low cost, and has a great potential to be widely used in medical and health field concerning cell treatment and tissue engineering."
The research has been published in the newest edition of Advanced Functional Materials and applied for the utility patent in China.