Replacing the body’s insulin-producing beta cells is one potential method for curing type 1 diabetes (T1D). Researchers are attempting to solve a number of challenges to make beta cell replacement a reality. These include:
In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), researchers from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) may have developed a solution to the final challenge. Beta cells need oxygen and other nutrients in order to survive and function. New beta cells introduced to the body lack a vascular network of blood vessels to deliver oxygen and other nutrients, which is a major impediment to their survival. To overcome this challenge, the DRI scientists developed a new biomaterial that generates oxygen and delivers it to newly implanted beta cells, allowing them to function until a vascular network develops. Since this initial study was conducted using a laboratory model, researchers will now seek to clinically apply the results. The goal is to use this technology as part of the encapsulation system of islets for transplantation in people with T1D.
The DRI researchers who conducted this study were funded by JDRF and the Helmsley Charitable Trust (HCT) as part of a collaboration to accelerate the pace of research and development to deliver better treatments, devices, and diagnostics for improving the lives of people with T1D. This study also illustrates the success of two JDRF research funding strategies in addition to the HCT collaboration. Dr. Camillo Ricordi, DRI’s scientific director, has been the recipient of a number of substantial JDRF funding grants. One of these grants specifically helped fund this and other DRI research related to beta cell replacement. Also, the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Cherie Stabler, is the past recipient of a postdoctoral fellowship from JDRF that enabled her to investigate methods for beta cell survival using her biomedical engineering background. JDRF provides postdoctoral fellowships to attract qualified, promising scientists in the early stages of their professional careers to the T1D research field with the long-term goal that, as independent investigators, they will contribute to research aimed at curing, treating, and preventing T1D.
Wow! This is exciting...
In our efforts to cure T1D, JDRF actively supports research aimed at restoring a person's insulin