Diabetes forces patients to constantly worry about their insulin levels while also subjecting them to painful finger prick blood tests.
It’s a reality Chris Townsend deals with all the time. The Edmonton resident currently keeps his condition at bay by testing his blood sugar levels anywhere from 10 to 12 times a day. He says that just the simple act of eating is something that he has to remain perpetually concerned about.
“OK how many carbs is that? How much insulin do I need for that?” he said. “And if I don’t take it, my blood sugars are going to shoot up and then I feel like crap the next day.”
It’s a reality researchers in the medical world are aware of, and it’s why they’re so eager to come up with alternative treatments. But a new one being developed by researchers in Alberta and California is raising eyebrows, because it could put an end to insulin injections and those painful blood tests altogether.
The new treatment involves a small plastic implant that is loaded with millions of stem cells which can produce insulin. Once inserted into a patient, blood vessels grow around the implant which allows the stem cells inside to release the right doses of insulin in response to whatever the person ate.
The implant has so far proven to be effective in treatments involving mice, and now researchers at the University of Alberta are moving into human trials.
Townsend is among the people who have so far received the implant.
“So far it’s been very safe,” Dr. James Shapiro with the University of Alberta said. “It looks like it’s working the way we hoped it would.”
The only downside to the new treatment is that it comes with a variety of pills the patient needs to take, from anti-inflammatory drugs to immunosuppressants–so that the body does not reject the implant. Still, it beats having to prick your finger a dozen times a day.
Researchers are hoping to expand their trials across North America, and aim to have their human results within two years. For more information, check out the video above.