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Treatment of diabetes by islet cell transplantation

Exploitable results

The long term goal of this programme is to prevent the development of chronic complications in diabetic patients by implantation of an insulin producing beta cell graft. Our working hypothesis is that successful transplantation of beta cells requires grafts with selected size, composition and function. The biologic properties of beta cell grafts should be characterised and adjusted to the metabolic and immunologic status of the recipient. This type of graft should increase the efficacy of accompanying measures aiming at graft survival and/or metabolic correction. Since the supply of human beta cells is insufficient for experimental or therapeutic transplantation programmes in diabetes, we propose additional core activities for the production of beta cell grafts from two alternate sources. The first approach aims at the generation of human beta cells from stem cells which are to be purified from pancreatic duct cells that will be isolated from young donors. The second approach involves mass isolation of islet or beta cells from foetal porcine pancreata and their encapsulation in bioartificial devices which protect the xenogeneic donor tissue against host attack.