Encapsulated porcine islet cell transplantation – an evolving therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes

A new paper has just been published in Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, which reviews the use of encapsulated porcine cells in the treatment of insulin dependent (type 1) diabetes. The paper is co-authored by Professor Bob Elliott, Medical Director from Living Cell Technologies in new Zealand.

Encapsulated xenotransplantation for diabetes represents a treatment approach that is long lasting and has demonstrated potential in a variety of pre-clinical and clinical experiments, say the authors.

Technologically, both macroencapsulation and microencapsulation are approaching a level that warrants renewed attention as a safe and reproducible way to introduce islet cells into the type 1 diabetic.

Living Cell Technologies have initiated trials in Russia, and have administered implants to five patients, achieving a 23-100% reduction in insulin requirements. The trial is currently in expansion for a second phase and provisional approval has been granted for a similar trial in New Zealand.

The authors conclude that as xenotransplantation becomes an even more robust and effective way of treating diabetes, the clinical demand for such products will warrant serious consideration at the regulatory level. This will necessitate balancing supply and demand, as well as well as demonstrating safety and efficacy.

Reference: CG Thanos, RB Elliott. Encapsulated porcine islet transplantation: an evolving therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Expert Opinion on Biological Therapies. 2009; 9 (1): 29 -44.