A study published in the current issue of Cell Transplantation (21:8), now freely available on-line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct/ , reports that a team of researchers in South Korea have successfully engineered islet cell clusters (ICCs) that will improve pancreatic islet transplantation and offer promise for curing diabetes mellitus.
Carried out by collaborating researchers at three universities in Seoul, Korea, the new process of creating ICCs included delivering a gene to single islet cells that increased their glucose sensitivity; reducing the size of cells in the cluster and; modifying the ICCs' surface with a poly-lipid to help prevent immune reactions. According to the researchers, their work is potentially far-reaching by helping to overcome the shortage of islet cells with respect to transplantation and reducing the need for immunosuppressant regimes, an important factor in eliminating the possible adverse impact of transplantation.
"Transplantation of isolated pancreatic islets has shown tremendous potential for curing patients with type I diabetes," said study co-author Dong Yun Lee of Hanyang University's Department of Bioengineering. "But transplanted islet cells face challenges, such as hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions and the host's aggressive immune reactions. Accordingly, we developed a clinically adaptable way to create islet cell clusters engineered to overcome these challenges."