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“Living drug factories” may one day replace injections

Robert Langer | Via MIT | May 16, 2018

Patients with diabetes generally rely on constant injections of insulin to control their disease. But MIT spinout Sigilon Therapeutics is developing an implantable, insulin-producing device that may one day make injections obsolete.

Sigilon recently partnered with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Company to develop “living drug factories,” made of encapsulated, engineered cells that can be safely implanted in the body, and produce insulin over the course of months or even years. Down the road, cells may also be engineered to secrete other hormones, proteins, and antibodies.

The technology at Sigilon — based on research performed over the last decade at MIT — has led to creation of a device that encases cells and protects them from the patient’s immune system. This can be combined with engineered cells that produce a target therapeutic, such as insulin. The devices are tiny hydrogel beads, about 1 millimeter in diameter, that can be implanted into the patient through minimally invasive procedures… Continue reading.

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