Living Cell Technologies has announced the results of their latest human trial of encapsulated islets.
The trial, which took place in New Zealand with support from JDRF, aimed to test if transplanting encapsulated islets is safe, and to determine what ‘dose’ or number of transplanted islet cells would be the most beneficial to people with type 1.
The researchers reported few side effects of the treatment and a significant reduction in hypoglycaemia unawareness in people with type 1 who received a transplant. People who received the treatment also reported an improvement in quality of life.
Islet encapsulation is a new way to protect transplanted islet cells in people with type 1 diabetes. The islet cells are encapsulated in a protective bubble that has tiny holes to let insulin out and glucose in (as shown in illustration). These holes are too small for the cells from the immune system to enter, so the islets are protected from both transplant rejection and the reaction that causes type 1 in the first place.
The promising results of this trial will allow the researchers to apply for approval to start a phase IIb trial. A phase IIb trial will allow the researchers to test their technology on a larger group of people to gather more data on how effective it is at restoring insulin production.
Maebh Kelly, Research Communication Officer at JDRF commented, ‘Islet encapsulation is a very exciting topic at the moment and the results of this trial are encouraging. However, this is an early phase trial and the number of people involved was low. Larger studies will now be carried out to determine just how effective it is’.