Protecting Transplanted Insulin-Producing Cells Naturally
Researchers have discovered certain cells within our body that could help protect transplanted insulin‐producing cells. Among them is a group of adult stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). MSCs are found throughout the body and develop into cartilage, bone, fat and other tissues.
Several years ago, the DRI discovered that MSCs obtained from bone marrow have unique properties to help the recipient’s body accept the transplant. MSCs can limit inflammation, stimulate blood vessel growth and promote the long‐term function of islets.
The DRI’s immunology and tissue engineering groups are
co‐transplanting insulin‐producing cells with MSCs
into one of the BioHub platforms, the bioengineered scaffold, placed within the omental
pouch, which is part of the abdomen. Early studies show
that this approach can enhance acceptance and extend the viability of the transplanted insulin‐producing cells.
Researchers also are investigating other “helper” cells that demonstrate similar therapeutic benefits. Among these are endothelial cells, which line blood vessels.
Mesencymal stem cells (MSCs), in red, one of the "helper cells" used in a BioHub, have shown the ability to reduce inflammation and promote long-term survival and function of transplanted islets (blue cluster).