MIT engineers have designed technology that could be used in an implantable device that not only carries hundreds of thousands of insulin-producing islet cells, but also has its own on-board oxygen factory, which generates oxygen by splitting water vapor found in the body. According to the press release:
“The researchers showed that when implanted into diabetic mice, this device could keep the mice’s blood glucose levels stable for at least a month. The researchers now hope to create a larger version of the device, about the size of a stick of chewing gum, that could eventually be tested in people with Type 1 diabetes.”
The device generates oxygen by splitting water using a proton-exchange membrane. Hydrogen, diffuses harmlessly away, while oxygen is accumulated into a storage chamber that feeds the islet cells through a thin, oxygen-permeable membrane.