Tissue engineering application on pancreatic islet transplantation

Posted by admin on Jun 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

What is tissue engineering?

Tissue engineering was once categorised as a subfield of biomaterials, but having grown in scope and importance it can be considered as a field in its own right. It is the use of a combination of cells, engineering  and materials methods, and suitable biochemical and physio-chemical factors to improve or replace biological functions. (wikipedia)

What are pancreatic islets?

The pancreas, an organ about the size of a hand, is located behind the lower part of the stomach. It makes insulin and enzymes that help the body digest and use food. Throughout the pancreas are clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans. Islets are made up of several types of cells, including beta cells that make insulin.

Drawing of a body torso showing the location of the liver and the  pancreas with an enlargement of a pancreatic islet containing beta  cells.

The pancreas is located in the abdomen behind the stomach. Islets within the pancreas contain beta cells, which produce insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Diabetes develops when the body doesn’t make enough insulin, cannot use insulin properly, or both, causing glucose to build up in the blood. In type 1 diabetes—an autoimmune disease—the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the body’s immune system has attacked and destroyed them. A person who has type 1 diabetes must take insulin daily to live. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with a condition called insulin resistance, in which the body has difficulty using insulin effectively. Over time, insulin production declines as well, so many people with type 2 diabetes eventually need to take insulin. (from: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/pancreaticislet/)

What is pancreatic islet transplantation?

In an experimental procedure called islet transplantation, islets are taken from the source. The islets are purified, processed, and transferred into another person. Once implanted, the beta cells in these islets begin to make and release insulin. Researchers hope that islet transplantation will help people with type 1 diabetes live without daily injections of insulin. (from: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/pancreaticislet/)

What are the sources of pancreatic islets?

Islets are obtained from a deceased donor’s pancreas, a living donor’s pancreas, the patient’s own pancreas, or from stem cells.

What are the advantages of pancreatic islet transplantation?

Pancreatic islet implantation is considered by many scientists to be a better alternative than pancreas organ transplant. First,  islet implantation is thought to be as effective as pancreas organ transplant.  Second, islet implantation is a relatively simple procedure where the islets are injected into a vein in the liver, without subjecting patients to a traumatic surgery.

Ricordi Method - Islet Isolation & Transplant for Diabetes

Animation of the procedure for islet isolation (The Automated Method), purification and transplantation for treatment of diabetes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMNKu-ZVUls).

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