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Nanocapsules may offer new treatment for diabetes

As the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, diabetes is a major public health issue. Approximately 1.7 million Australians currently have diabetes, with a further 280 people developing diabetes every day.

Diabetes is a major global public health issue.
Diabetes is a major global public health issue.

Type 1 diabetes, formerly called juvenile-onset diabetes, accounts for 10 per cent of all diabetes’ diagnoses, and Type 2 diabetes, previously known as adult-onset diabetes, accounts for 85 per cent of diagnoses. Gestational diabetes – the development of diabetes during pregnancy – is increasing. The impact cost of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion annually. Globally, diabetes is the world’s fastest growing chronic condition.

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, which is essential for converting glucose into energy. Complications from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes include heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness. Historically, treatment for diabetes has entailed the regular monitoring of blood glucose levels, taking insulin via daily injections, and changes to diet and physical activity.

Curtin University research, led by Dr Hani Al-Salami, School of Pharmacy, is investigating how nanocapsules can potentially offer new treatments to cure diabetes. Nanocapsules are tiny houses in which healthy cells can be grown.

The latest nanocapsules, which are better quality than previous versions, can host healthy organs that can produce insulin in a stable way, the precursor to creating an artificial pancreas that could possibly cure diabetes.

Dr Hani Al-Salami, School of Pharmacy.
Dr Hani Al-Salami, School of Pharmacy.

Dr Al-Salami said the research had potential implications for the treatment of many diseases through the implantation of healthy organs, which is not currently available.

“This biomaterial and nanotechnological research has achieved a new discovery that may offer a new biological-based treatment via a capsule, which could be used to harvest healthy organs capable of curing diabetes in the future,” Dr Al-Salami said.

“Through this research, we have uncovered new data on biotechnological methods for creating better quality nanocapsules, or tiny houses for growing healthy cells, which have the potential to offer new treatment options as the healthy cells can function as their own organs and help cure many diseases, which currently have no cure.

“This discovery is significant as it has the potential to offer new treatment options for many diseases, including diabetes.”

The research is the result of more than two years work undertaken at Curtin University, in collaboration with the Diabetes Centre at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University of Western Australia.

The full paper, ‘New Biotechnological Microencapsulating Methodology Utilizing Individualized Gradient-Screened Jet Laminar Flow Techniques for Pancreatic β-Cell Delivery: Bile Acids Support Cell Energy-Generating Mechanisms’, can be viewed here.