I read with interest your reply to a person seeking information regarding gene therapy as a cure for diabetes. In your reply you stated that only rats were successfully implanted with encapsulated beta cells. I believe that there are some people in New Zealand who have had encapsulated beta cells transplants. I don't know the current status but I do know that they are not rats. Also, weren't there people in China and Europe who have had encapsulated beta cell transplants?
On another note, what do you think about the use of CTLA4-Ig in conjunction with encapsulation and transplantation of beta cells. A paper written by C.J. Weber et. al. from Emory University stated that they saw prolonged survival of beta cells using encapsulation and CTLA4-Ig. Do you know of any research going on now using this technique?
Finally, I'd like to know if you know anything about INGAP (Islet NeoGenesis Associated Protein) that Aaron Vinik and others had found to be able to regenerate beta cells from normal pancreatic cells. Eli Lilly, a major marketer of insulin, patented INGAP in the Spring of 1997 and ever since then, nothing has been written about this very promising research. Do you know what's going on?
I think you refer to a New Zealand trial of incubating donor cells in nicotinamide before transplant and giving them to a recipient who is also on nicotinamide and actually they had some initial success although since then nothing more has appeared in the literature as far as I know: I can tell you that we in Sardinia tried to transplant encapsulated human islets inside the wall of a vascular prosthesis in type 1 diabetic subjects undergoing kidney transplantation or vascular surgery. This on the basis of positive results in dogs. They lasted for only a short period of time (months) and since then people are working hard how to prolong the lifetime of grafted islets. Meanwhile there has recently been substantial progress in managing this problem. A German group has substantially improved the outlook for islet cell allograft in human by modification in the post-operative immunosuppressive regimen.
The question related to CTLA4-IG could perhaps relates to the fact that this protein has been shown to prevent rejection of kidney transplants in monkey.
I am afraid I have no information on INGAP and Eli Lilly.
Original posting 16 May 1998
Posted to Research: Cure
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