With medical and technological advancements changing our world, researcher Juewan Kim is ahead of the game with ground-breaking research into treatments for Type 1 diabetes – using a 3D printer!
The 3D printer was funded through a national collaboration between Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA), the University of Wollongong, Australian Research Council and the Australian National Fabrication Facility.
Currently, an islet transplantation is the only treatment option for those with severe type 1 diabetes. Now, Juewan can use this revolutionary device to print insulin producing islet cells for transplant for type 1 diabetics!
“The advantage of using the 3D printer is that it’s easy and it can print a large amount of islet cells, ultimately increasing the chances of a successful transplant and not relying on a deceased donor for islet cells,” Juewan said.
Juewan has just completed his PhD, working with Professor Toby Coates as his supervisor, using the 3D printer to co-print islets with special immune T Cells called Regulatory T Cells (Tregs).
“Our Treg cells have the ability to suppress immune reactions, thereby potentially preventing the rejection of islet cells for those who require a pancreatic islet cell transplantation.
“My research focuses on using the recipient’s own Treg cells, printing them using a special formulated bioink designed for bioprinting, to potentially decrease the risk of their body rejecting the donor islet cells when transplanted into the body.”
Juewan’s revolutionary work could be life-changing for those living with type 1 diabetes, as an islet cell rejection leads to many complications and decreased quality of life.
His findings were recently published in the scientific journal, Advanced Functional Materials.
“We were able to show in the paper that when we printed the islet cells combined with the Treg cells, they were protected from inflammatory immune responses, decreasing the chance of them being rejected from the body,” Juewan said.
“Getting results published in a paper will definitely open up opportunities for us and I’m excited to see where it will take us.”
Juewan said his research would not have been possible without the support from KTDRA and its donors.
“With this funding, we have been able to show exciting developments and the potential of what a 3D printer can do and how it can impact the lives of those living with type 1 diabetes!”