Leveraging Nanoparticles in Diagnosing and Treating Type 1 Diabetes
Medical technology has seen significant advancements over the years helping to improve healthcare in many ways. An area of recent focus has been nanotechnology. Researchers have been exploring opportunities to use nanomedicine to expand upon current diagnosis and treatment options for type 1 diabetes, which affects millions of people around the world.
For instance, scientists know that a key marker for type 1 diabetes (T1D) is the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. But oftentimes these cellular changes are not noticed until they become severe enough that symptoms of high blood sugar are apparent. Being able to identify biomarkers earlier can improve the diagnosis of the disease and allow patients to receive treatment sooner.
A recent study examines the use of nanoparticles to support the diagnosis of T1D as well as treatment options. Pairing the nanoparticle ferumoxytol with current magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology may enable healthcare providers to better visualize where there is inflammation within pancreatic islets. These nanoparticles readily accumulate in inflamed islets but then are safely metabolized by the body without any harmful side effects. Inflammation is an early sign of the development of T1D.
In addition, nanoparticles can also be loaded up with various substances such as peptides and injected to specific locations to target key processes like the downregulation of immune cells. This may help slow or prevent the destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Or, nanotechnology could be used to encapsulate cells or molecules with bioparticles to ward off immune system attacks.
While more research is necessary, there is a great deal of opportunity that may exist for using nanotechnology and nanoparticles in healthcare. It could one day open new doors for the diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as type 1 diabetes or improve existing therapies.
Funding research around T1D is vital. Diabetes Research Connection (DRC) is committed to providing early-career scientists with funding to support novel research studies focused on prevention and management of the disease as well as improving quality of life and reducing complications of T1D. Learn more about current projects and how to support these efforts by visiting https://diabetesresearchconnection.org.