Pig cells may treat human diabetes
Researchers in Russia will soon trial a possible
treatment for type 1 diabetes involving injecting pig cells into human patients,
however, concerns remain.
According to the researchers, this type of treatment could possibly provide
a cheaper and more accessible alternative to human cell transplants. However,
concerns about xeno-transplantation
remain an issue.
In patients with type 1 diabetes, the islet cells of the pancreas do not
produce enough insulin to regulate blood glucose effectively. Living Cell
Technologies (LCT), based in New Zealand, is extracting neonatal islet cells
from pigs, especially bred to be free from common viruses, bacteria and
parasites. These pig cells are then coated in alginate (derivative of seaweed),
which allows glucose, insulin and oxygen to pass through, but blocks antibodies.
These coated pig cells are designed to release insulin in response to blood
glucose levels, mimicking the action of pancreatic islet cells.
Kamp, a diabetes expert at the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland, Australia:
â€œThis is a very reasonable line of investigation.â€
The year-long trial on six people, based at the ANO Institute of Biomedical
Research in Moscow, will be run according to US Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) standards and is scheduled to start in a few months. It will investigate
the safety and effectiveness of the treatment.
LCT hopes to run similar trials in New Zealand later
this year. If those go well, it will apply to run Phase II trials in the
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