Islet cells from swine reverse insulin dependency in diabetic non-human primates

June 3, 2003 Washington, DC: Today at the American Transplant Congress, Martin N Wijkstrom, M.D., on behalf of researchers from the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, Department of Surgery at the University of Minnesota and Immerge BioTherapeutics, Inc., presented data showing reversal of diabetes in monkeys after transplantation with porcine islet cells. Immediately post-transplant, each of the monkeys no longer required insulin and achieved normal glucose levels. Researchers used combinations of immunosuppressive therapies to allow the cells to function within the primates for more than 70 days.

"This data is very significant because while we have been able to reverse diabetes in past islet studies, we had only seen 2-3 week survival times before the graft was lost due to the overwhelming rejection response," said Professor Bernhard Hering, M.D., Associate Director of the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation at the University of Minnesota. "For this study, we looked at immunosuppressive regimens that were well tolerated in past monkey-to-monkey islet transplants. The survival times we are reporting on today should only increase as we further optimize the immunosuppressive regimens."

In this study, diabetic cynomolgus monkeys were transplanted with islets purified from the pancreas of adult pigs or miniature swine. They were then treated with an immunosuppressive cocktail, including induction and maintenance therapy. All animals became insulin independent and reached normal glucose levels in the period after transplantation, and a number of animals were insulin-free for up to 70 days after transplantation.

"None of the animals showed evidence of antibody-mediated rejection, which is a major type of rejection for solid organs like kidneys and heart" said Henk-Jan Schuurman, Ph.D., Vice President Research at Immerge BioTherapeutics, Inc. "The immune rejection responses we did observe were T-cell

Contact: Susan Hayes
S. Hayes Consulting

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