Congratulations to Dr. Cherie Stabler, who received a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) grant for her project, Engineering Bioactive Retrievable 3D Scaffolds for Improving Islet Transplantation.
The development of treatment options for insulin-dependent diabetics that provide a highly regulated glucose-sensing and insulin-secreting closed loop system could result in dramatic improvements in quality of life and decrease in disease management complications. Clinical islet transplantation, the loading of donor islets into the liver, shows strong potential to provide this control, given that it transplants the very cells with this inherent glucose-sensing/insulin-secreting capacity. Limiting islet transplantation, however, is the significant loss and dysfunction of islets following implantation due to the poor engraftment environment and significant immunological attack.
The overall objective of this JDRF-funded project is to develop a cell-based, bioartificial pancreas system that mimics the native pancreas by providing an optimal three-dimensional environment to the transplanted insulin-producing cells and immunoisolating the transplanted cells from the host. This is achieved by employing highly modular and tailorable bioactive materials that provide nutritional support, clinical scalability, and immune protection.
Stabler anticipates that these studies will provide a valuable new approach for increasing the success of islet transplantation for the treatment of type 1 diabetes by creating a superior bioartificial pancreas device, requiring only a reasonable number of beta cells, scalable to humans, and with added safety benefit of retrievability and monitoring with minimum to no immunosuppression.