Progress in Clinical Encapsulated Islet Xenotransplantation


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Abstract

At the 2015 combined congress of the Cell Transplant Society, International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association, and International Xenotransplantation Association, a symposium was held to discuss recent progress in pig islet xenotransplantation. The presentations focused on 5 major topics — (1) the results of 2 recent clinical trials of encapsulated pig islet transplantation, (2) the inflammatory response to encapsulated pig islets, (3) methods to improve the secretion of insulin by pig islets, (4) genetic modifications to the islet-source pigs aimed to protect the islets from the primate immune and/or inflammatory responses, and (5) regulatory aspects of clinical pig islet xenotransplantation. Trials of microencapsulated porcine islet transplantation to treat unstable type 1 diabetic patients have been associated with encouraging preliminary results. Further advances to improve efficacy may include (1) transplantation into a site other than the peritoneal cavity, which might result in better access to blood, oxygen, and nutrients; (2) the development of a more biocompatible capsule and/or the minimization of a foreign body reaction; (3) pig genetic modification to induce a greater secretion of insulin by the islets, and/or to reduce the immune response to islets released from damaged capsules; and (4) reduction of the inflammatory response to the capsules/islets by improvements in the structure of the capsules and/or in genetic engineering of the pigs and/or in some form of drug therapy. Ethical and regulatory frameworks for islet xenotransplantation are already available in several countries, and there is now a wider international perception of the importance of developing an internationally harmonized ethical and regulatory framework.

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