We would like to thank the CDTRP for their support in our project, as well as Monia Rekik, Jean Ruel & Nicolas Proulx as patient partners. We are working on a device to improve the survival of transplanted islets!
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disorder caused by the destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Insulin regulates blood glucose levels. Even with regular blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration, people with T1D experience significant challenges controlling blood glucose. Low blood glucose levels can lead to loss of conscience and even death, while high blood glucose levels are associated with long-term complications such as heart disease, loss of feeling in extremities and loss of vision. Instead of replacing the insulin hormone, the insulin-producing beta cells can be replaced through a procedure termed islet transplantation. Islet transplantation can avoid the need for insulin in 70% of recipients for at least 2 years and reduces the risks of hypoglycemia for several years. Unfortunately, this therapy is not accessible to most people with T1D due to limited cell supply from organ donors. Moreover, islet transplant recipients must take immune suppressive drugs for the rest of their lives after the procedure, increasing risks of infection and cancer. The objective of this project is to design a transplantation device that could be combined with a variety of islet cell sources, increasing access to the therapy. This islet encapsulation device would also protect the graft from the immune system, avoiding the need for immune suppression. Finally, the device would be retrievable if complications arise. While other encapsulation devices are being developed, a unique feature of our new device is the optimization of graft survival via short and long-term islet oxygenation.