Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the U.S. today. There are currently 23.6 million adults and children affected by the disease, with an annual growth rate of approximately 8%. Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM or Type 1 diabetes) accounts for 5-10% of the cases. From a health care standpoint, the compounded effects from Type 1 diabetes are physically and economically staggering.
The ultimate objective of University of Akron researchers Dr. Joseph Kennedy, Distinguished Professor of Polymer Science and Chemistry, and Dr. Miko Cakmak, Professor of Polymer Engineering, is to correct insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in humans. The approach is to create a bioartificial pancreas (BAP) by using a fundamentally new polymeric device designed expressly for xeno-immunoisolation (pig into human), whereby porcine pancreatic islet cells (PICs) are encapsulated within a novel, selectively permeable membrane. These immunoprotective membranes must be biocompatible, biostable, non-fouling, implantable (and removable), highly oxygen permeable, sterilizable, soft and smooth, but mechanically robust and durable. The University of Akron’s new membranes meet these demanding criteria, and can be systematically tailored to the features necessary for a bioartificial pancreas.
The key ingredient is the engineered polymer membrane of polydimethylacrylamide/ polydimethylsiloxane, which is protected by both product and process patents, as well as pending applications. The strength of these membranes was significantly enhanced through development of a nanofiber reinforced network, using a new patent-pending process. Prototype nanofiber-reinforced immunoisolation membrane-coated devices were constructed and a series of in-vitro experiments were performed in conjunction with the Cleveland Clinic. Preliminary experiments with pig-to-rat and pig-to-dog implantation were conducted, with encouraging results.
University of Akron's marketable product is the technology and intellectual property to produce a hollow, polymer tubule filled with pig pancreatic islet cells. Upon implantation into a diabetic patient, the PICs will deliver the needed amount of insulin, so that the painful and multiple times daily prick testing and self-injections become unnecessary. The device containing the PIC-filled polymer tubule would be implanted subcutaneously in the upper arm of the diabetic patient in a simple office procedure. The polymer tubule could be easily removed and replaced, as often as necessary to maintain proper blood sugar levels in the diabetic patient.
Parties interested in the technology should contact the University of Akron Office of Technology Transfer.
UA Office of Technology Transfer
Kenneth Preston, Director
Susan Dollinger, Marketing Director
Goodyear Polymer Center, Suite 312
Akron, Ohio 44325-2103