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The Society of Polymer Science, Japan announced on July 14 that Prof. Akira Matsumoto (Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Institute of Biomaterials and Engineering, Associate Professor), who is one the COINS members, won the Asahi Kasei Award 2020. The awarded research topic is entitled as "Development of Smart-gel Based Totally Synthetic Artificial Pancreas”. The artificial pancreas, which automatically detects the increase of blood glucose level and administers the necessary amount of insulin into the body, has been studied since the 1990s as a medical device for the treatment of diabetes. However, due to the use of biological materials such as glucose oxidase and sugar-binding proteins, issues with durability and immunotoxicity have always been encountered. Prof. Matsumoto and his colleagues took advantage of the reversible binding chemistry between boronic acid and glucose, and found it, when integrated with suitably amphiphilic hydrogel, gives rise to a reversible, glucose-dependent change in hydration. This abrupt, rapid and the gel-surface-localized (de)hydration mode serves as an effective diffusion-switch for the gel-loaded insulin. It is the birth of a non-mechanical artificial pancreas that is inexpensive because it is made entirely of chemical materials and is free from durability and immunotoxicity issues. Furthermore, the technology has been recently combined with microneedle for painless and transdermal administration that could simply been worn on the skin. The validation study on pigs, whose body weight is comparable to that of humans, is underway.
For the Asahi Kasei Award, please refer to the following website:
An interview article with Prof. Matsumoto is covered by the July 15 issue of “Iyaku-Keizai (Pharmaco-Economics)”