JDRF partner Viacyte, a US-based regenerative medicine company, has successfully transplanted human pancreatic tissue into mice without immune rejection of the tissue.
In this new preliminary study, stem cell-derived immature pancreatic cells were transplanted into mice that had their own beta-cells chemically destroyed. The mice were treated with drugs for two weeks that block specific elements of the immune system, meaning that the immune system didn’t attack the graft. In other mice who didn’t receive these drugs, the grafts were destroyed.
The grafts that survived as a result of the drugs then matured into fully functional insulin-producing cells that maintained normal blood glucose levels.
Normally, lifelong immunosuppressant drugs would need to be taken to prevent the body’s natural rejection of foreign tissue. The fact that use of these drugs meant that the mice didn’t reject this foreign tissue is very promising, as it could indicate future opportunities for islet cell transplantation that won’t require lifelong immunosuppressant drugs.
Journal article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1934590914005591