Can a Common Ingredient in Laundry Detergent Help Advance Diabetes Research?
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – November 16, 2017 – Two oxygen-producing compounds –
including one that boosts performance in some laundry detergents – might one
day play a key role in helping scientists successfully build a bioartificial pancreas
in the lab to cure type 1 diabetes.
Reporting in Biomaterials Science, researchers from Wake Forest
Institute for Regenerative Medicine found that the extra oxygen provided by these compounds improved
the function and viability of insulin-producing cells during important stages
of the pancreas-building process. The cells are known for being greedy
consumers of oxygen.
“These studies provide a proof of concept for using oxygen-generating
materials to solve one of the major obstacles to engineering a bioartificial
pancreas – making sure the cells have enough oxygen to function until the
structure integrates with the body,” said Emmanuel C. Opara, Ph.D., professor
of regenerative medicine and lead scientist on the project.
Researchers have been working for years to develop a bioartificial
pancreas in the lab to help the millions of people with type 1 diabetes. About three
million Americans have the disease, an autoimmune disorder that destroys insulin-producing
beta cells within the pancreas. While insulin injections can help control blood
sugar, the therapy cannot prevent complications of the disease, including kidney
damage, nerve pain and damage to blood vessels in the eyes that can lead to
While the transplantation of an
entire pancreas or of its insulin–producing cells can potentially cure type 1
diabetes, these options are rarely offered due to the lack of suitable pancreas
donors and the toxic effects of anti-rejection drugs that are required after a
As a substitute to these options, scientists
are working to build a bioartificial pancreas by encapsulating
insulin-producing cells within tiny biocompatible beads. The beads are coated
with a substance that allows insulin to pass through, but prevents the body
from recognizing the cells as “foreign” and rejecting them. With this approach,
there would be no need for anti-rejection drugs.
A major challenge with this strategy
is how to supply the oxygen needs of the cells until the bioartificial pancreas
forms its own blood vessels. Insulin-producing cells have high oxygen
requirements – they use 10 to 12 percent of the blood flow to the pancreas
while accounting for only 1 to 2 percent of its weight.
“A continuous supply of oxygen is
needed from the time that the cells are first isolated from a donor pancreas
until the bioartificial organ is implanted and develops its own blood vessels, typically
five to 10 days post-transplant,” said Opara.
The current study focused on sodium percarbonate (SPO), used in
laundry detergents and household cleaners, and calcium peroxide (CPO), used as
an antiseptic and in many other ways. The goal was to determine if the
compounds could supply the insulin-producing cells with oxygen -- beginning
with cell isolation and continuing seven days after microencapsulation.
Using insulin-producing cells isolated from rats and pigs, the
researchers conducted three studies: adding SPO during cell isolation; evaluating
the use of SPO particles during the cell growth process; and assessing whether adding
CPO particles during encapsulation would improve cell quality during a week in
a low-oxygen environment similar to what the cells would encounter in the human
In all studies, the researchers were
able to increase the number of living cells by approximately 50 percent and
their ability to make insulin by eight times with the addition of oxygen. They
learned that some variables, including temperature, could be used to control
oxygen levels. Next, they will work to more accurately control oxygen levels,
to extend the time period that oxygen is released and to ensure that tissues
are not damaged from too much oxygen.
“We have demonstrated that oxygen-generating
materials are potentially a viable strategy to supplement oxygen to the cells
used for transplantation in patients with diabetes,” said Opara.
The research was supported by the
National Institutes of Health: RO1 DKO80897 and T32EB014836
were Sivanandane Sittadjody Ph.D., Samuel Pendergraft, Ph.D, and Alan C.
Farney, M.D., Ph.D, Wake Forest Baptist, and John P. McQuilling, Ph.D., a
graduate student at Wake Forest at the time of the research, and now at Organogenesis.11/16/2017http://www.wakehealth.edu/News-Releases/2017/Can_a_Common_Ingredient_in_Laundry_Detergent__Help_Advance_Diabetes_Research_.htm
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