De Montfort University researchers hope to raise Pounds 360,000 from the private sector to develop a novel device for alleviating the effects of diabetes.
The funding will be raised through De Montfort Developments plc, which the university has just launched. Mark Hurley, director of the university's intellectual property advice centre, said the company owns the intellectual property rights for the research. "The company is now offering shares, and the money raised will be used to further the research," he said. Shares are being offered through financial advisers BDO Stoy Hayward.
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that affects how the body deals with glucose. Conventional treatment is for sufferers to inject insulin several times a day in response to self-administered drugs tests. But this is invasive and can mean that control of the blood sugar level is erratic.
The De Montfort device, known as a chemical pancreas, would respond to the glucose level by mimicking the control of a normal pancreas. The chemical pancreas would hold a reservoir of insulin. Through a barrier membrane sensitive to changes in glucose level, insulin could escape into the blood. It is envisaged that the insulin capsule would be implanted under the skin and could be refilled through a valve in the skin.
The researchers, led by Joan Taylor and based at the department of pharmaceutical sciences, have verified that the system works in the laboratory. They hope to be able to decide whether to go forward to medical trials of the device by mid-1999.