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Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks insulin-producing beta cells of pancreatic islets. Type 1 diabetes can be treated with islet transplantation; however, patients must be administered immunosuppressants to prevent immune rejection of the transplanted islets if they are not autologous or not engineered with immune protection/isolation. To overcome biological barriers of islet transplantation, encapsulation strategies have been developed and robustly investigated. While islet encapsulation can prevent the need for immunosuppressants, these approaches have not shown much success in clinical trials due to a lack of long-term insulin production. Multiple engineering strategies have been used to improve encapsulation and post-transplantation islet survival. In addition, more efficient islet cryopreservation methods have been designed to facilitate the scaling-up of islet transplantation. Other islet sources have been identified including porcine islets and stem cell-derived islet-like aggregates. Overall, islet-laden capsule transplantation has greatly improved over the past 30 years and is moving towards becoming a clinically feasible treatment for type 1 diabetes.


Alisa M White, James G Shamul, Jiangsheng Xu, Samantha Stewart, Jonathan S Bromberg, Xiaoming He. Engineering Strategies to Improve Islet Transplantation for Type 1 Diabetes Therapy. ACS biomaterials science & engineering. 2020 May 11;6(5):2543-2562

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PMID: 33299929

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