Microscopic Materials Facilitate Transplant Tolerance
One of the newest and most quickly evolving fields of bioengineered medicine involves the study and use of nanoparticles. Nanoparticles are synthetic materials that are microscopic in size; thousands fit inside the width of a single human hair. Yet scientists believe they’re powerful enough to play a significant role in the treatment of diabetes.
Diabetes Research Institute scientists are studying whether these microscopic particles can be used to help diabetes patients tolerate transplanted insulin-producing cells. The belief is that these particles can be loaded with immunosuppressive agents (anti-rejection drugs) and, because they are so small, sent precisely to cells in the body that regulate the immune system’s response. By pinpointing the delivery of the drug to a specific cell, we can potentially dampen or modify an immune response that would be triggered by the introduction of foreign tissue and allow diabetes patients to tolerate transplanted insulin-producing cells.
Leading to a Cure: How this Research Supports our Mission
As long as cell replacement therapy is perceived as a viable treatment for type 1 diabetes, establishing tolerance of the transplanted cells is critical. The use of microscopic nanoparticles may play a significant role in our ability to achieve transplant tolerance, maintain long-term insulin function and improve the quality of life of diabetes patients.