Mimicking the Native Pancreas
Before diabetes strikes, islet cells thrive inside the pancreas. They are scattered throughout the organ and are spaced far enough apart so each cell receives the oxygen and other nutrients it needs. Islet cells are also surrounded by other pancreatic tissue and cells. The goal is to recreate this environment in a BioHub.
For years, researchers have been transplanting islets into the recipient’s liver. The liver has its advantages:
- It’s easily accessible
- Cells can be implanted without invasive surgery
- It’s rich in blood and oxygen
Still, this environment has proven less than optimal. When islets flow into the liver:
- Inflammation occurs, threatening the life of the cells
- The cells tend to clump together, reducing the oxygen and blood supply to each
- The cells are continuously exposed to harmful medications and other toxins processed in the liver
With a BioHub, the DRI is creating an environment that more closely mimics the native pancreas, providing appropriate physical support, vital nutrients and agents that will help protect the islet cells from immune attack. The physical form of a BioHub – what it looks like, what it’s made of, and where it’s placed – is receiving intense focus at the DRI.
The Location - Finding the best place in the body for a BioHub
The Role of Oxygen – Using the BioHub to immediately bring oxygen to transplanted cells
Biodegradable Scaffold - A potential BioHub platform made from a patient's own plasma and clinical-grade thrombin
Bioengineered Scaffold – A potential BioHub platform made from clinical-grade silicone