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Focusing on a Cure: New Technology for Beta Cell Replacement

by Diabetes Research Institute on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 10:51 am on T1 Diabetes Cure - Global Headquarters and Diabetes Research Institute Facebook pages.

Hi everyone and happy Thursday! (Does anyone else feel like these weeks are just flying by?)

Today we wanted to share that the DRI’s Dr. Cherie Stabler, director of tissue engineering, is an invited speaker at the 47th European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) being held this week in Lisbon, Portugal.  Her presentation, “New technology for improvement of beta cell replacement,” which takes place tomorrow, will highlight several advancements that have been made in improving the transplant site and protection of new islets.

At a press conference coordinated by the EASD held yesterday, Dr. Stabler stated that, “Clinical islet transplantation - the intraportal infusion of allogeneic pancreatic islets into a diabetic recipient - is a promising treatment for type 1 diabetes. However, the success of clinical islet transplantation is hindered by the location of the implant site, which is prone to mechanical stresses, inflammatory responses, and exposure to high drug and toxin loads, as well as the strong inflammatory and immunological response to the transplant in spite of immuno-suppression.”

To address these challenges, the collaborative team at the Diabetes Research Institute is focused on three primary strategies:

  1. The development of scaffolds to house islets at alternative transplant sites. These three-dimensional scaffolds can serve to create a more favorable site for islet implantation by ensuring optimal three-dimensional distribution of the transplanted cells, creating a desirable niche for the islets and promoting vascularization.
  2. The fabrication of encapsulation protocols for the camouflage of the transplant from the immune system. Encapsulation can substantially decrease the need for systemic immunosuppression of the recipient by preventing host recognition of the surface antigens.
  3. Finally, production of bioactive biomaterials for the local delivery of oxygen and immunomodulatory drugs and/or cells. Localization of immunomodulatory agents to the site of the transplant can serve to concentrate protection to the site while minimizing the side effects commonly observed with systemic delivery of these agents. Furthermore, local oxygen delivery can provide a means to supplement oxygen to the cells until a fully formed vascular network develops.  

Dr. Stabler went on to say, “Success in these strategies should increase the efficacy of islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes, whereby the long-term survival and engraftment of the transplanted islets are significantly improved.”

In addition to Dr. Stabler, several other DRI faculty members are attending the EASD, including Dr. Luigi Meneghini, director of the DRI’s Kosow Diabetes Treatment Center, and Dr. Jay Skyler, DRI associate director and national chairman of TrialNet, whose presentation, “Can we change the course of type 1 diabetes?” focused on involving early markers, risk factors and intervention/prevention strategies through the various TrialNet studies now under way.


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