Scientists from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have produced the first clinical results demonstrating that pancreatic islet cells transplanted within a tissue-engineered platform can successfully engraft and achieve insulin independence in type 1 diabetes. The findings, published in the May 11, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, are part of an ongoing clinical study to test this novel strategy as an important step toward offering this life-changing cell replacement therapy to millions living with the disease. The NEJM letter is titled “Bioengineering of an Intraabdominal Endocrine Pancreas.” Islet transplantation has demonstrated the ability to restore natural insulin production and eliminate severe hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes. The insulin-producing cells have traditionally been implanted within the liver, but this transplant site poses some limitations for emerging applications, leading researchers to investigate other options. DRI scientists have focused on the omentum, an apron-like tissue covering abdominal organs, which is easily accessed with minimally invasive surgery and has the same blood supply and physiological drainage characteristics as the pancreas.
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