Pigs’ Cells Transplanted Successfully

Pigs' islets may be transplanted to
humans in future; © Pixelquelle.de

There has already been successful reversing of type 1 diabetes in humans through islet transplantation, however, the demand for islet cells grossly outweighs the supply. In order to make islet transplantation a viable solution for the tens of thousands of people with difficult-to-manage diabetes, a safe and reliable source of islet cells must be found.

The survival of pig islet transplants in monkeys was made possible with a novel immunosuppressive protocol. Graft survival did not require genetic modification of donor pigs or coating or encapsulation of donor islets.

"These results suggest it is feasible to use pig islet cells as a path to a far-reaching cure for diabetes," said Bernhard J. Hering, M.D., associate professor of surgery and lead investigator. "Now that we have identified critical pathways involved in immune recognition and rejection of pig islet transplants, we can begin working on better and safer immunosuppressant therapies with the eventual goal of bringing the treatment to people."

If research continues to be successful, Hering believes it may be possible to start clinical trials in humans in the next three years. To begin working toward the goal of using this technology to help people, Spring Point Project, a non-profit corporation, has taken concrete steps to build and operate biosecure barrier facilities to raise high-health pigs for planned pig islet transplant trials in humans.

Since it will take time to build biosecure facilities that meet the federal requirements for using animal tissues in humans, the Spring Point Project will proceed on a parallel track with the research at the University. The goal is to have suitable donor pigs available by the time the University has refined the immunosuppressive treatment to a point that makes it safe for clinical trials to begin.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Minnesota