Development of a novel measurement method for functional testing of pancreatic ß-cells

Based on a new, non-invasive measurement method using planar microelectrode arrays (MEAs), the present project aims to develop an automated measurement platform for pancreatic islet cells.


In the next 20 years, the number of diabetes patients worldwide will increase by 60% (International Diabetes Foundation 2009). New concepts for the treatment of diabetes and its serious secondary diseases are therefore important focal points of academic and pharmaceutical research. At the moment, more and more research centers for diabetes are being established at national and international level, combined with a significant increase in funding in the EU alone from: 44.5 million in the 5th Framework Program to 127 million in the 6th Framework Program.

Diabetes essentially results from a malfunction or deficiency of insulin-secreting ß-cells of the pancreas. New therapeutic approaches for the treatment of diabetes include the development of substances that specifically compensate for the loss of function of the ß-cells and lead to an improvement in insulin release, as well as the transplantation of healthy islet cells.

Up to now, only indirect or very personnel- and cost-intensive methods have been available to perform clinically relevant functional analyses of ß-cells and to determine drug effects on the function of healthy or pathophysiologically altered ß-cells. This weak point in the functional analysis of ß-cells is to be closed with the planned measurement platform.

The measurement principle is based on a novel method developed at the NMI to non-invasively measure the electrical activity of ß-cells in the intact tissue association of islet cells. The electrical activity of ß-cells is directly quantitatively linked to insulin secretion and is therefore an ideal parameter for functional analysis of ß-cells1.
Based on this new measurement method, the present project aims to develop an automated measurement platform for pancreatic islet cells that can be.
1) for basic clinical research in the field of diabetes mellitus as well as
2) can be used for quality control in islet cell transplantation, and
3) by its modular design, suitable for substance testing in the field of preclinical
drug development.


01.01.2012 - 31.12.2014