Diabetes Patients Will be Able to Control Therapy with a New Implanted Piezoelectric Button

Implanted Piezoelectric Button

Sufferers from type-1 and type-2 diabetes might soon have an implant that can help control their therapies made from engineered human cells, making patients’ live a whole lot more comfortable.

In a recent study published in the journal Science Advances, researchers from the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering, ETH Zurich, Switzerland, revealed that they had created a self-sufficient push-button device that comprises modified human cells and can be implanted directly beneath the skin.

The researchers demonstrated finger-pressure activation on a mouse model of type 1 diabetes where the implant returns blood sugar levels to normal.

“It is a quantum leap for merging electronics with genetics and kick-off for real-world therapeutic applications,” Researcher and Professor of Biotechnology and Bioengineering Martin Fussenegger told IE in an interview.

How Does it Work

The capacity of some materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress is known as the piezoelectric effect. The researchers note in their report that this property of piezoelectric materials has attracted “considerable” interest for biological applications, including tissue engineering and health monitoring.

The push-button has the capability to electrically program the genetic activity of cells. All the patient has to do is apply a bit of pressure equivalent to pressing a keyboard button.

In order to “trigger encased electro-sensitive human designer cells” to provide a therapeutic output, the researchers sought to create and test a cellular encapsulation device that would use the low voltage produced by gently pressing a PVDF (Polyvinylidene Fluoride) film-based piezoelectric module.

The pressure from the finger produces a very small alternate currency that stimulates the sales into creating insulin. The patient can then press the button multiple times for multiple doses.

Fussenegger says that the technology is highly mature, and the team does not expect any setbacks or obstacles with the piezo elements.