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UA doctors testing implantable ‘tea bag’ device to help diabetes patients

TUCSON- A $1.2 million grant from JDRF is helping to fund research at the University of Arizona to test an implantable ‘tea bag’ device that senses glucose levels and will automatically release insulin when needed.

UA professor of surgery Dr. Klearchos Papas calls the device a major advancement to help people with diabetes.

“It does actually suppose to protect the cells so that the immune system doesn’t recognize them and doesn’t reject them so you can transplant cells without the need for immunosuppression and these are the cells that would sense glucose and insulin automatically without needing any more injections,” he said.

Dr. Papas said that the device feeds oxygen to the islet cells in the tea bag for insulin production.

Currently, he said that his team is testing large animals.

UA professor of surgery Dr. Robert Harland said that this device is about the size of a quarter and would be implanted in the forearm.

“It could go just under the skin where it can get blood vessels to grow around it to supply oxygen but also to take insulin away that is secreted by the cells in the device,” said Dr. Harland.

Dr. Papas said that clinical tests on people could launch in the next three to four years.

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper is an anchor and multi-skilled journalist for News 4 Tucson. She anchors KVOA’s newscast weekdays at noon and 4 p.m.
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