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Islet encapsulation to treat diabetes.

Insulin-secreting cells encapsulated by the emulsion-based method.

Islet transplantation using the Edmonton Protocol has provided new hope for a cure to diabetes. Widespread access to this treatment would require large numbers of insulin-secreting beta cells and improved methods to avoid graft rejection. One strategy to reduce graft rejection is to place the islets inside an immunoisolation device that creates a physical barrier between the graft and components of the host immune system. Islet encapsulation in hydrogel beads has allowed long-term islet survival and reversal of autoimmune diabetes in non-immunosuppressed rodents. Although clinical trials in humans are ongoing, the promising results obtained in rodents have not been replicated in primates. We have developed a novel emulsion-based method to encapsulate large amounts of islets in a few minutes. Using the emulsion method, we can produce highly concentrated alginate beads that reduce antibody contact with the graft. This new type of uncoated alginate bead could avoid issues encountered with other encapsulation technologies, such as fibrotic overgrowth.


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