Briefly and simply, Encapsulife's patch would be inserted beneath a diabetic's skin through a simple, minimally invasive, outpatient surgical procedure. The silver-dollar-sized patch contains thousands of islet cells, derived from either live human donors or medically raised pigs. These cells biologically produce insulin when they encounter glucose. The patch's multiple layers shield the islets from the body's white blood cells and other immune mechanisms while letting the insulin diffuse into the diabetic's blood stream. The result is, essentially, an artificial pancreas that automatically generates insulin and avoids rejection without immunosuppressant drugs. (Such medicines can trigger harmful side effects, including limiting the body's defenses against opportunistic infections.)
"Multi-layer capsule systems similar in concept to a Russian matryoshka doll, with the islet cells being the inner-most doll are technically difficult to fabricate and rely on Dr. Wang's innovations," says Encapsulife president Tom Gibson. "Our multi-layer system is the only one that successfully has reversed diabetes in canines and primates." Gibson adds that this patch involves "no batteries, no mechanical break-downs, no kinks in pump lines, no injections, no finger-prick blood tests four to eight times a day, no guessing how much insulin to inject to match meals, no dangerous (potentially fatal) hypoglycemic lows, etc."