A new way of holding insulin producing islet cells inside the body has been developed at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in southern Australia, where doctors have been trialling artificial skin, already used globally in burns injuries, as a potential site for the transplant of donor islet cells used in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes.
Professor Toby Coates, Director of Kidney and Pancreatic Islet Transplantation and Associate Professor John Greenwood AM, Director of the Burns Unit, are looking into the effectiveness of transplanting islet cells into artificial skin made of a biodegradable material, rather than into the liver. Professor Coates says, “Traditionally we transplant islet cells into the liver to help treat Type 1 diabetes patients, however the harsh and unforgiving environment of the liver means that a large number of islet cells die during the process. “The key component of this research is to modify and optimise the artificial skin to create a new site to transplant islet cells in people with Type 1 diabetes. Transplanting islets into the artificial skin instead of the liver is potentially a much safer procedure, which will reduce the total number of islets needed to transplant for diabetes and allow more people access to this life-changing transplant procedure.”
JDRF has contributed nearly $1 million to develop the new transplant procedure. The doctors are hopeful the treatment will be ready to be trialled on people in the next two years.
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