Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Xenotransplantation as a therapy for type 1 diabetes

Pig beta cells show great promise in an animal model

Type 1 diabetes is caused by autoimmune destruction of the insulin-producing beta cells. Over 250,000 patients suffer from type 1 diabetes in Germany who are treated with daily insulin injections to maintain glucose metabolism.

Replacement of the destroyed beta cells by transplantation of either a complete pancreas organ or isolated human beta cells is the only effective way to cure the disease.

However, due to the shortage of organ donors this method can be offered to only few patients. As an alternative approach researchers are exploring xenotransplantation, i.e. transplantation of the organ from another species.

The most obvious barrier in xenotransplantation is the strong immune rejection against the transplant. A research team led by LMU’s Professor Eckhard Wolf and Professor Jochen Seissler has now generated a genetically modified strain of pigs whose beta-cells restores glucose homeostasis and inhibit human-anti-pig immune reaction. So far, the efficacy of this approach has been demonstrated only in an experimental mouse model.

“Whether the strategy will work in humans remains to be demonstrated,” says Professor Wolf. “Nevertheless, we consider the approach as very promising and plan to test it further in other settings.”

Type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune reaction which ultimately leads to the destruction of the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, and usually becomes manifest during adolescence. Thereafter, insulin must be administered by regular insulin injections. Since insulin therapy cannot reproduce the complex pattern of physiologically controlled insulin secretion, patients are at risk of hypoglycemia and many patients develop severe vascular complications such as myocardial infarction or stroke.

Transplantation of a healthy pancreas or pancreatic beta cells that synthesize insulin may represent the best treatment option. Unfortunately, the availability of donor organs falls far short of requirements. Over the course of the last several years, fewer than 200 pancreas transplantations have been carried out. “Pigs represent a possible alternative source, because glucose metabolism in this species is very similar to that in human beings,” Professor Seissler points out.
Pig insulin differs from its counterpart in humans at only a single amino acid, and has been used successfully in the treatment of diabetic patients for decades. However, pig cells inevitably provoke an immune reaction leading to the destruction of the transplanted tissue. One way of avoiding this difficulty is to encapsulate the foreign tissue in a biologically inert material that is permeable to insulin but not to cells of the immune system. However, the drawback of this approach is the restricted supply of oxygen and essential nutrients to the transplanted cells, thereby reducing its lifespan.

Wolf and his team chose a different route. For the first time they generated genetically modified pigs that express the protein LEA29Y specifically in beta cells. LEA29Y effectively inhibits the activation of a class of immune cells that are required to initiate a rejection reaction. The researchers then transplanted these cells into a diabetic mouse strain that has a humanized immune system. Seissler’s group showed that these mice were able to restore glucose metabolism and were protected form human-anti-pig rejection. As Wolf is quick to point out, “It is not yet clear whether this will also work in humans. However, we will now attempt to validate the effects of this very promising approach using beta-cells expressing immune modulators in other transplantation models.” suwe

„Xenografted Islet Cell Clusters From INSLEA29Y Transgenic Pigs Rescue Diabetes and Prevent Immune Rejection in Humanized Mice”
Nikolai Klymiuk, Lelia van Buerck, Andrea Bahr, Monika Offers, Barbara Kessler, Annegret Wuensch, Mayuko Kurome, Michael Thormann, Katharina Lochner, Hiroshi Nagashima, Nadja Herbach, Rudiger Wanke, Jochen Seissler, and Eckhard Wolf
Diabetes online, 20. April 2012

Prof. Dr. Eckhard Wolf
Chair of Molecular Animal Genetics and Biotechnology
Genzentrum, LMU Munich

Prof. Dr. Jochen Seissler
Diabetes Center
Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik IV – Campus Innenstadt

Dr. Kathrin Bilgeri | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIH scientists describe potential antibody treatment for multidrug-resistant K. pneumoniae
14.03.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Researchers identify key step in viral replication
13.03.2018 | University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation

19.03.2018 | Information Technology

Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

19.03.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>