Purdue University researchers develop innovations to battle diabetes

Published: November 24, 2015

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Food gatherings at Thanksgiving and Christmas require rigorous management by people affected by diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is the result of the breakdown of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes can be the result of a combination of obesity, high caloric intake and a sedentary lifestyle.

According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million have prediabetes, which means they have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels. Death, kidney failure and vision loss are among the health complications associated with diabetes.

Researchers at Purdue University are developing products and processes that could improve the detection and treatment of diabetes. These patent-pending technologies, which can be further developed or commercialized through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization, include:

* Encapsulation of cells and tissues. Type 1 diabetes destroys cells that produce insulin. Although cell transplants can be initially successful, some are lost after the transplant because of innate immune responses. The Purdue technology encapsulates the cells to enable long-term survival and reinstate insulin production, which leads to normal glucose control in Type 1 diabetes patients.

* Water soluble, stable glucagon. Glucagon is a hormone used to treat diabetic patients, but it is marketed in freeze-dried form that inhibits its use in medical pens and pumps. As a result, the delivery process is complicated, particularly in emergencies. The Purdue technology stabilizes the hormone and improves its solubility in aqueous form, and allows applications such as pens, pumps or an artificial pancreas.

* Graphene petal biosensor. More sensitive instruments for biological sensing must be developed as even minute changes in body fluids can show early warning signs of disease. The Purdue technology is a robust monitoring sensor made of graphene that detects glucose levels not only in blood, but also saliva, tears and urine. The sensors can be fabricated inexpensively to enable noninvasive monitoring of glucose levels.

* Method to extract insulin grown in cell cultures. Insulin can be produced in cell cultures, but the process to extract it and process it into a usable therapeutic results in a loss of almost 40 percent. The Purdue technology uses a unique combination of agents to boost the yield of usable insulin to approximately 72 percent.

* System to deliver therapeutic to treat obesity. The risks of obesity and Type 2 diabetes can be reduced when brown or beige adipose tissue, or fat, are activated. The injection of a chemical compound induces the conversion of white-to-beige adipose, but uncontrolled delivery of the compound has hindered treatments. The Purdue technology is a biocompatible system that gradually releases the compound as the system degrades.

For more information about these and other Purdue-discovered technologies, email otcip@prf.org

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org 

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342,  sgmartin@prf.org