Plastic Fantastic: Protective Device Fends Off Immune System Attacks on Transplanted Precursor Cells

By protecting the transplanted cells from T-cell assaults, the device could do away with the need for type 1 transplant patients to take long-term immunosuppressant drugs.

May 20, 2009

Significant relief for people with type 1 diabetes could soon come in the form of a device made from a thermoplastic resin commonly used as a coating for cookware, gaskets, and hoses.

The device uses polytetrafluoroethylene to encase and protect transplanted pancreatic precursor cells from attacks by T-cells, the "soldiers" of the body's immune system. By protecting the transplanted cells from T-cell assaults, the device could do away with the need for type 1 transplant patients to take long-term immunosuppressant drugs. 

A study on mice conducted by the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine, both located in La Jolla, California, found that precursor cells encapsulated in the plastic device generated no response by the immune system.\

The scientists originally thought that even though the T-cells would not be able to penetrate the protective casing, they would cluster around it like an army laying siege to a well-fortified town. Instead, T-cells ignored the intruder, indicating that the immune system was not even aware of the presence of the device.

Precursor cells are cells that have the potential to grow into cells that have more specific purposes-such as the production of insulin. The study found that such cells increased the likelihood of transplant success versus already formed pancreatic beta cells.

Although there have been many instances of successful transplantation of insulin-producing beta cells into animals and people with type 1 diabetes, the vexing problem is the inevitable immune system attack on the cells. Aside from the irony that type 1 diabetes is itself classified as an immune system disease, the long-term use of immunosuppressants to prevent attacks on the transplanted cells lowers patients' resistance to other diseases.  

The San Diego researchers, who published their findings in the online journal Transplantation, say that encapsulation in a protective coating offers a potential new approach to treating type 1 diabetes. Instead of virtually eliminating a patient's immune system through heavy drugging, such devices could "hide" transplanted cells and offer a stealthy way to get them past the body's sentries.

Click Here To View Or Post Comments

Categories: Complementary Therapies, Diabetes, Diabetes, Health Research, Insulin, Laboratory Tests, Other Lab Tests, Research, Type 1 Issues

Take the Diabetes Health Pump Survey
See What's Inside
Read this FREE issue now
For healthcare professionals only
  • 12th Annual Product Reference Guide
  • Insulin Syringe Chart
  • Insulin Pen Needles Chart
  • Fast-Acting Glucose
  • Sharps Disposal
  • Blood Glucose Meters Chart
  • Insulin Pumps Chart
See the entire table of contents here!

You can view the current or previous issues of Diabetes Health online, in their entirety, anytime you want.
Click Here To View

See if you qualify for our free healthcare professional magazines. Click here to start your application for Pre-Diabetes Health, Diabetes Health Pharmacist and Diabetes Health Professional.

Learn More About the Professional Subscription

Free Diabetes Health e-Newsletter

Top Rated
Print | Email | Share | Comments (2)

You May Also Be Interested In...


Posted by Anonymous on 26 May 2009

YAY I'm ready.

Posted by Florian on 26 May 2009

Living Cell Technologies, a company in New Zealand, is using insulin producing beta cells from pigs that are encapsulated in a gelatin capsule which protects the cells from attack by lymphocytes when implanted in humans and allows the insulin to be released as needed. Small scale clinical studies are in progress and good results have been reported. Its not a cure but certainly an advanced level of treatment for controlling high blood sugar

Add your comments about this article below. You can add comments as a registered user or anonymously. If you choose to post anonymously your comments will be sent to our moderator for approval before they appear on this page. If you choose to post as a registered user your comments will appear instantly.

When voicing your views via the comment feature, please respect the Diabetes Health community by refraining from comments that could be considered offensive to other people. Diabetes Health reserves the right to remove comments when necessary to maintain the cordial voice of the diabetes community.

For your privacy and protection, we ask that you do not include personal details such as address or telephone number in any comments posted.

Don't have your Diabetes Health Username? Register now and add your comments to all our content.

Have Your Say...

Username: Password:
©1991-2015 Diabetes Health | Home | Privacy | Press | Advertising | Help | Contact Us | Donate | Sitemap

Diabetes Health Medical Disclaimer

The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. Opinions expressed here are the opinions of writers, contributors, and commentators, and are not necessarily those of Diabetes Health. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.