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Artificial Pancreas: Successful Transplantation of Animal Beta Cells

Research Team with DZD Participation Reports Successful Pig-Islet Xenotransplantation without Immunosuppression


Diabetes mellitus type 1 is an autoimmune disease that results in irreversible destruction of insulin-producing beta cells. Researchers have made significant progress in beta cell replacement therapies. However, the lack of eligible donor organs and the need for a permanent suppression of the immune system to prevent rejection critically limit the wider application of these strategies. In a recent scientific publication, an international research group of diabetes specialists and surgeons led by the Dresden DZD scientists Dr. Barbara Ludwig, Dr. Stefan Ludwig and Professor Stefan R. Bornstein from the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus have presented an experimental study with an artificial pancreas. This bio-reactor, developed in cooperation with the Israeli company Beta-O2 Technologies Ltd., allows the transplantation of xenogeneic islet cells without affecting the immune system. In cooperation with the German Primate Center in Göttingen, the researchers were able to demonstrate stable graft function and adequate glucose-regulated insulin secretion in non-human primates without the need for immunosuppressive medication. This strategy opens up new avenues for more widespread and safe application of various cell-based therapies.

Original publication:
Barbara Ludwig, Stefan Ludwig, Stefan R. Bornstein et al.; Favorable outcome of experimental islet xenotransplantation without immunosuppression in a nonhuman primate model of diabetes. PNAS, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1708420114