Image of the Month: Scarred Crystal

Published in Fundamentals - Fundamentals October 2022

The immune system protects the body by attacking outside invaders — including things made to help us. The immune systems of patients with diabetes consider transplanted biomedical devices foreign objects. As pictured, one of the devices is crystalline drug-loaded hydrogels that hold insulin-producing islets. In turn, the immune system rejects the device. The body can’t remove it, so the immune system traps it by sealing it behind scar tissue, leading to internal islet death, and making the treatment ineffective.

Johns Hopkins Medicine biomedical engineer Joshua Doloff and his partner Shady Farah at The Technion received a $700,000 grant from JDRF to ensure these treatments have long-term success. They aim to create a drug delivery system with anti-inflammatory medications. That way, the delivery system protects the device and makes the treatment last for a prolonged period of time.

Photo Credit: Asst. Prof. Shady Farah, The head of the Laboratory for Advanced Functional/Medicinal Polymers & Smart Drug Delivery Technologies (, The Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Israel.

Caption written by Lauren Hines, Science Writing Intern for the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences.

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