This is an exciting new technology! It is a way to protect transplanted islet cells so that the body can't attack them. Check out the video on how they are made. Question is how long it will take to prove it really works and make it available to the general public?
Here is a excerpt from the article talking about Diabetes use.
On our home planet, the NASA Biocapsule's primary target is diabetes—specifically, patients who need insulin. Says Dr. Loftus:
The capsule would contain pancreatic islet cells (from animals) or would contain engineered cells designed to behave like pancreatic islet cells, with both glucose-sensing and insulin secretion function. Patients with low-insulin requirement might benefit from implantation of a single capsule (containing perhaps a million to 10 million cells); patients with higher insulin requirement might require implantation of more than one capsule.
In other words, diabetes patients might never need to give themselves another shot. They wouldn't have to worry about remembering to bring medicine everywhere, and they might even be free of having to constantly monitor their blood-sugar levels. Plus, many diabetes patients lapse into comas or die during sleep because that's eight hours every day when they can't monitor their levels. The NASA Biocapsules would work automatically, regardless of whether you're awake or not. As of 2010 there were an estimated 285 million people living with diabetes, so saying that this invention could potentially save millions of lives is not an exaggeration.
FWIW there are quite a few companies working on encapsulated projects. LCT is the furthest into clinical trials but their procedure hasn't really gotten anyone off insulin for any length of time. Viacyte is the one to look out for IMO. They are working with stem cells and claim to be able to manufacture them in the billions. From my understanding that should mean they could essentially transplant as many as needed. They have their encapsulation method as well. There is also Prof Tejal Desai in San Fran working on a capsule to produce insulin. There is also to Islet Sheet as well.
Thanks Gary for the references as they are all very interesting. The work Viacyte is doing on creating islet cells from stem cells sounds like the other half of solution used together with the NASA biocapsule technology, although I am not sure why animal islet cells would not work? From what I understand about carbon nanotube technology it just maybe the the best encapsulant approach as it produces the required mesh density that is both inert and extremely strong.
Viacyte's encapsulation I think is made of some kind of teflon or something. Animal cells can work but I think Stem cells would probably be far less expensive and being they can multiply they could offer the treatment to likely anyone. One thing we know is islet transplants can at least work for some time. Once they get to the point of having the supply needed which I think stem cells should then its just a matter of finding the best way to encapsulate the cells. Still without stopping the Immune attack none of the therapies mentioned would be eradicating the disease. It will be interest to see in the next couple of years what becomes of all this. Unfortunately I'm running out of life. There is just no way I could see myself living like this long term. In essence my life has been taken. Right now I am breathing to work and chase my sugars. The quality of my life is down the toilet.
Sorry to hear that. You might be the ideal trial canididate since you have nothing to lose. I did a search at ClinicalTrials.gov and found several trials going on using the keyword "islet encapsulated", problem is there is none in the US (if it must be in the US), but I'm sure there will be more in the near future so keep looking.
Thanks to Gary for his references as I found these videos on other islet encapsulate technologies. Both are excellent and not too technical. The first one is long but offers a glimpse on why it is taking so long (hint: politics). However it seems a cure is very near and I would be suprised if not within this decade.
Well, I really hope Viacyte can get the ball rolling in their anticipation time frame which is in the middle of 2013. They have offices in Athens Georgia and their main headquarters are in San Diego. Even though Islet transplants have not been approved for commercial use many people have had them done. I think if Viacyte can prove their therapy is safe and it works it may take a couple more years of trials before approval but once real world patients start having the procedure done without any complications it will be only a matter of time. I'm not sure I'd be willing to be the first patient but after a year or so of successful trials I'd be at their doorstep in no time. I've paid my dues.. I'm in this crap nearly 4 decades and becoming more and more miserable and scared every day. You also may want to check out the recent article about Stemcell cordblood transplants into type one diabetes patients. Now that would be possible disease reversal.