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Preventing Diabetes with Nanotechnology

Medical researchers have turned to nanotechnology to look for a way to prevent the onset of diabetes and control abnormal blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, is a serious health problem. An autoimmune disease involves the immune system mistakenly attacking functional cells in the body.

Type 1 diabetes is caused by T cells, a certain type of white blood cell that is part of the body’s immune system. In those with type 1 diabetes, these white blood cells destroy the beta cells in the pancreas so that it cannot produce insulin.

A vaccine generally causes the immune system to produce white blood cells to fight off disease. A researcher at the University of Calgary has developed a nanoparticle that prevents these white blood cells from attacking the beta cells.

Attached to the surface of these nanoparticles are segments of beta cells that alert the immune system to produce a different type of white blood cell that stops the T cells from attacking the beta cells, acting like a vaccine.

This method has so far been tested only on lab animals, where it has prevented the onset of diabetes in prediabetic mice and returned blood sugar levels to normal in diabetic mice.

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