A group of researchers from China has recently discovered a way to merge engineered cells and monitor glucose with a smartphone to automatically manage the levels of insulin in test mice. Many people across the globe suffer from diabetes, and most of them require injecting insulin to keep the track of their levels of glucose. This usually consists of taking episodic samples of blood for testing to detect whether the shots are required or not. Even though this approach works, it is not always favorable, as injecting and testing can be difficult and as unexpected rise or drop in glucose can occur because of several reasons such as amount or type of food eaten or indulging in exercise. In this new study, the research team has designed a closed-loop system that provides a method to generate insulin in the body and distribute it whenever needed.
The new system developed by the research team consists of insulin-producing cells that are engineered to function when activated with the infrared light. The cells were placed by the team in an insulated sheath, which also consisted of red LED lights. Then, the sheath was placed under the skin of the test mice. The lights were controlled remotely through a smartphone app by sending signals to a control box that consisted of a coil, which stimulated the lights. The data were received by the smartphone via an embedded blood glucose meter. This arrangement resulted in a closed loop system in which the glucose testing was automatically performed by the glucose meter on an episodic basis. The data are analyzed by the smartphone app to validate how much and when is the insulin production required. A signal is sent accordingly to the control box, stimulating the LED lights, causing the cells to generate and release insulin in the mice body.
This new system was tested by the research team on the mice for several weeks and this demonstrated successful control in the levels of insulin. Isn’t it a great step forward in manufacturing such equipment for human use making diagnosis simpler?