"Novel methods for constructing materials for diabetes therapeutics"
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which insulin-producing cells are destroyed. This can be reversed by simply transplanting the patient with additional insulin-producing cells. The major hurdle in doing this is that the immune system will recognize the cells as foreign and will attack them. One way to prevent recognition is to encapsulate the donor cells with a polymer. Two problems arise when using traditional encapsulation methods: 1) the cells are not completely encapsulated and protrude, allowing for recognition by the immune system and 2) the cells starve from a lack of nutrients owing to the polymer being too thick to allow sufficient transport. We are attempting to solve this problem through 3D printing of a matrix, in which 1) the cells would be encapsulated, 2) could be coated with a polymer to prevent host recognition, and 3) will have hollow vessels for oxygenated blood to flow through.
Program mentor: Kaitlin Bratlie, assistant professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Iowa State University