A preclinical model of pig islet xenotransplantation as treatment for type 1 diabetes [ 2001 - 2006 ]

Also known as: Pig islet xenotransplantation

Research Grant

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Researchers: Prof Philip O'Connell (Principal investigator) ,  A/Pr Mark Nottle Dr Christopher Moran Prof Andrew Lew Prof Anthony Cunningham
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Brief description The object of this multi-disciplinary program grant is to develop a source of pig insulin secreting tissue that will be used to treat type 1 diabetic patients. At present the number of diabetic patients that would benefit from islet transplantation far outnumber any human source of this tissue. Pigs that have been genetically altered to avoid rejection and enhance survival could overcome this donor shortage problem.. It is our belief that with the appropriate genetic modification pig insulin-secreting tissue can avoid the aggressive rejection response that occurs with xenographs and provide normal blood glucose control without insulin. This project concentrates on the five main issues that need to be overcome before pig insulin-secreting tissue can be used in diabetics. These are: identifying the best source of insulin secreting tissue to use; adult islets, newborn or foetal islet cell clusters; overcoming the strong rejection response to pig tissue; identifying a safe and effective immunosuppressive regime; producing a new types of genetically modified pigs that will provide islets tissue that will work in humans; and demonstrating that pig islet transplantation will not pose undue infective risks for the patient or community. This truly collaborative program grant has brought together a large group of investigators with strong research records in diabetes, islet transplantation, xenotransplantation, pig transgenesis and pig genetics and includes scientists and clinicians who look after diabetic patients. Unique pig resources will be used including genetically manipulated pigs that have been shown to avoid some of the rejection mechanisms associated with transplanting pig tissue. There is a captive-bred baboon colony that provided a unique model of diabetes. A world class pig transgenesis facility has been enlisted to generate new lines of genetically altered pigs as new data is produced within the group. Finally because of the involvement of the National Pancreas Transplant Unit any proven therapeutic strategy can be brought quickly to clinical trials.

Funding Amount $AUD 4,380,000.00

Funding Scheme NHMRC Strategic Awards

Notes Diabetes Collaborative Research Grants

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