Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) is a chronic inflammatory disease in which there is autoimmune-mediated organ-specific destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreatic islets of Langerhans. These result in glucose homeostasis abnormalities and produce metabolic complications that are frequently debilitating and life threatening.
Replacing these cells has been a therapeutic goal for decades and could prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with DM. Islet transplantation is considered a potentially curative treatment for type 1 diabetes. However, this protocol is yet to be successful. One of the most likely reasons for the poor success thus far in islet cell transplantation is that these tissue grafts must establish new vasculature from the host to survive. Native islets in the pancreas have a rich microvasculature thought to provide efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to islet cells and ensure rapid dispersal of pancreatic hormones to the circulation. In contrast, isolated islets are severed from their native vascular network. Using advanced tissue-engineering techniques the new technology enabled 3-D co-culture systems that reconstruct vascularization of pancreatic tissue ex vivo.
- Co-culture systems that reconstruct vascularization of pancreatic tissue ex vivo.
- Tools for studying central problems in molecular and cell biology of the pancreas.
- A Model to study the role of 3D endothelial tubes on isolated islets survival ex vivo.