Researchers have explored how 3D printing can be used to help treat Type 1 diabetes.
The 3D printing technique, known as bioplotting, has taken researchers a step closer to being able to help patients who experience severe hypoglycaemic (low blood sugar) situation.
The paper describes how clusters of specialised cells responsible for the production of insulin and glucagon in the pancreas have successfully been 3D printed into a scaffold.
It is hoped that the scaffolds can be transplanted into patients with Type 1 diabetes to help regulate blood sugar levels and avoid dangerous low blood sugar events.
Islet cells, also called Islets of Langerhans, are clusters of pancreatic cells that sense blood sugar levels and release insulin to maintain normal levels.
"Our results showed that once the islet cells were retrieved from the 3D scaffolds in the lab, they were able to produce insulin and respond to glucose in the same way as non-printed islet cells," said van Apeldoorn from the University of Twente in the Netherlands and co-author of the study.
In their study, the group of researchers sought to increase the success of islet transplantation by creating bio-engineered scaffolds to help deliver the transplanted islet cells into patients, ensuring the cells are protected and fully functioning when placed at the donor site.
The scaffolds also ensured that the islet cells would not migrate uncontrollably through the body once transplanted into the donor site.
The results appeared in the journal Biofabrication.