Immune system-evading human insulin producing cells as device-free type 1 diabetes control
Destruction of pancreatic islet cells, the body’s source of insulin, is the driving pathology underlying type 1 diabetes. Insulin administration – via injection or automatic pump – is the standard treatment for the disease, but can be cumbersome and hard to manage. Device-free solutions, such as cell therapy to replace the destroyed islets, are therefore highly desirable. Implanting foreign cells into the body would likely result in immune rejection, however. To overcome this issue, and avoid the need for immunosuppression, which could leave patients vulnerable to infection, researchers have developed immune-evading human islet-like organoids (pictured). The organoids were grown from stem cells engineered to display an immune-blocking factor called PD-1. In mice that model human diabetes, the organoids produced insulin (green) and stabilised blood sugar for seven weeks without immunosuppression. While further research is required before the organoids can be used clinically, they represent an encouraging step toward device-free diabetes control.
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