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Scientists have created insulin-producing cells that could replace injections

Scientists from the Sydney (UTS), have created a line of insulin-producing cells that could eliminate the need for Type 1 diabetics to inject themselves with insulin.

The development on its own is pretty impressive, but the cells, which are derived from liver cells, are now on their way to being incorporated to a world-first bio-artificial pancreas after being licensed by PharmaCyte Biotech. The company has already acquired something called the Cell-in-a-Box® system, which is basically a tiny cellulose-based ‘capsule’ that can house artificial cells and integrate them into a human body. This platform can be used to develop treatments for any disease where cells aren’t releasing the molecules they’re supposed to, but after acquiring the license to the insulin-producing cells, it's clear that PharmaCyte Biotech has set their sites on targeting Type 1 diabetes.

The new cell line, called “Melligen” cells, is derived from human liver cells, which have been genetically modified to take over the role of the pancreas's insulin-producing islet cells. "When a foetus develops, the liver and the pancreas form from the same endodermal origin," explained Ann Simpson scientist who has been developing the cells over the past 20 years.

Early lab trials have shown that the genetically modified Melligen cells are able to release insulin in direct response to the amount of glucose in their surroundings - something that could help type 1 diabetics to live without daily injections and regulate their blood sugar levels naturally.

The next step for the company is for PharmaCyte Biotech to embed clusters of the Melligen cells into the Cell-in-a-Box® capsule, which is around the size of a pin head. These artificial pancreases will then be transplanted into animals to test whether they can effectively integrate into the body and regulate insulin levels. After that, they can begin testing the technology in humans.

Several other groups are now working on artificial pancreases that use sensors under the skin, or even temporary tattoos to monitor blood glucose levels. But these systems all require a pump to control the amount of insulin required in response to these levels, rather than biologically sensitive cells.

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Head injury patients show signs of faster aging in the brain

People who have suffered serious head injuries show changes in brain structure resembling those seen in older people, according to a new study. The brain injury patients in this study were estimated to be around five years older on average than their real age.

Researchers at Imperial College London analysed brain scans from over 1,500 healthy people to develop a computer program that could predict a person's age from their brain scan. Then they used the program to estimate the "brain age" of healthy people and patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries. The brain injury patients were estimated to be around five years older on average than their real age.

Head injuries are already known to increase the risk of age-related neurological conditions such as dementia later in life. The age prediction model may be useful as a screening tool to identify patients who are likely to develop problems and to target strategies that prevent or slow their decline.

"Your chronological age is not necessarily the best indicator of your health or how much longer you will live," said Dr James Cole, who led the study, from the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. "There is a lot of interest in finding biomarkers of aging that can be used to measure a certain aspect of your health and predict future problems."

The study, published in the April issue of Annals of Neurology, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study changes in brain structure. The researchers used a machine learning algorithm to develop a computer program that could recognise age-related differences in the volume of white matter and grey matter in different parts of the brain.

The model was then used to estimate subjects' ages based on their brain scans. The study included 99 patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by road accidents, falls or assaults, who had persistent neurological problems. The scans were taken between one month and 46 years after their injuries. In healthy controls, the average difference between predicted age and real age was zero. In TBI patients, the difference was significantly higher, with a bigger discrepancy in patients with more severe injuries. Bigger differences in predicted age were associated with cognitive impairments such as poor memory and slow reaction times.

There was also a correlation between time since injury and predicted age difference, suggesting that these changes in brain structure do not occur during the injury itself, but result from ongoing biological processes, potentially similar to those seen in normal aging, that progress more quickly after an injury.

"Traumatic brain injury is not a static event," said Dr Cole. "It can set off secondary processes, possibly related to inflammation, that can cause more damage in the brain for years afterwards, and may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia." The researchers believe the age prediction model could be applied not just to TBI patients, but might also be useful to screen outwardly healthy people.

Posted By: #DocLynkNews‪‬  
DocLynk.com - Professional Network exclusively for ‪Doctors‬, Dentists‬ and ‪MedicalStudents‬ of India and Abroad.

Ref: ScienceDaily
Note : Materials may be edited for content and length.
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