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August 5th, 2012
The Islet Sheet is the perfect environment for islets of Langerhans to thrive and deliver insulin as needed to the body of a person with diabetes. Once the sheet is implanted, nutrients (sugar, amino acids, lipids) are provided by the vascular tissues surrounding the implant. Then the islets react to glucose and release insulin exactly as needed.
Oxygen is the limiting nutrient on cells, and we must ensure that the islets in the sheet get enough all the time. Blood vessels near the islets — in the tissues surrounding the Islet Sheet — deliver the needed oxygen, and the islets’ demand for oxygen causes those blood vessels to grow.
Jonathan Lakey’s research group has developed a beautiful and interesting new way to image and measure this vascular adaptation. Rahul Krishnan led this work. At the recent Transplantation Society meeting in Berlin, Mr. Krishnan presented this study in an oral session.
Click here for a high-quality PDF of the data.
The images were created by putting a clear window in the back of mice, providing a view of implanted islets and their surrounding tissue in two forms. The top set of images in the PDF shows the first group of islets: syngeneic mouse islets contained in an Islet Sheet, after implant and (below) 7 days later. In the second test, porcine islets were contained in an Islet Sheet (bottom set of images, after implant and 7 days later below). Vascular growth to feed the islets is shown by four different imaging methods. The method shown in the detail below — hemoglobin oxygen saturation — essentially shows availability of oxygen:
I think you will agree that the increase in oxygen supplied to the Islet Sheet is remarkable.
This paper shows that, at seven days post-implant, vascular service to islets in the Islet Sheets is similar to what occurs with unencapsulated islets. This supports our belief that the Islet Sheet will normalize blood sugars in people with diabetes.