One of the problems associated with islet cell transplants has been the length of time the cells survive in the body after transplant. Surgeons from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have developed a cellular structure that mimics the environment of the pancreas that helps preserve islet cells allowing them to survive significantly longer while also producing much more insulin.
This bio-engineered matrix was formed by removing cells from pancreatic tissue, using natural proteins to hold the cells together. The resulting matrix was seeded with donor islet cells and stem cells and then successfully transplanted in animals using microsurgical techniques.
The research team that successfully developed the matrix believes this is a significant step forward toward an eventual cure for type 1 diabetes. A clinical trial involving patients with insulin dependent diabetes is likely in the near future.
Would you ever consider volunteering for a clinical trial such as the one described above? Why or why not? Post your comments below.
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