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Insulin Production Controlled by Acid Sensor Implant

Researchers have developed an implantable molecular device that monitors acid build-up in the body for people with diabetes and produces insulin if acidosis becomes a risk. A team of bioengineers from ETH Zurich"s Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel developed the device which is composed of two modules: a sensor that constantly measures blood pH and a gene feedback mechanism that produces the necessary amount of insulin. They constructed both modules from biological components including genes and proteins and incorporated them into cultivated renal cells. They then embedded millions of these customized cells in capsules which can be implanted in the body. The results in mice have been successful in controlling blood sugars. Molecular Cell, 2014; 55 (3): 397 DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2014.06.007