London, Feb 19: Seaweed may help cure diabetes, researchers suggests. Scientists from MicroIslet Inc firm at San Diego have developed the seaweed coating as a potential cure for diabetes.
Alginate, a jelly-like substance extracted from the seaweed is being wrapped around insulin-producing cells taken from pigs and injected into the patients' body, hiding the pig cells from the immune system. Diabetes which affects millions around the world, develops when the pancreas, which produces insulin, packs up completely or does not make enough to help cells absorb glucose from the blood.
The transplant programme for diabetes involves the harvesting of islet cells, from a healthy donor pancreas and injecting them into patients who can't produce their own insulin.
Around a dozen patients in Britain have had the treatment so far, with some being 'cured' and no longer needed to inject insulin, the Daily Mail reported. Insulin-producing pig cells are a close match for humans but they still get picked up by the body's defence system as a foreign invader.
Alginate is widely used in areas such as wound dressings as the body recognises it as friendly rather than foreign.
''A number of children have already been cured of their diabetes using this technique,'' said Jo Brodie a spokeswoman for Diabetes UK, an organisation working for people with diabetes.
''The research has huge potential, but a major limiting factor in the use of either a whole pancreas or islet cell transplant is the lack of available donor organs,'' she added.