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12:00 AM
 | 
May 28, 2012
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

Islet defense

Sernova's Cell Pouch, Sertoli cells protect implanted islet cells in diabetes

Sernova Corp. is developing its Sertolin cell technology and Cell Pouch System device to provide an immune-privileged, vascularized environment for donor islet cells to produce insulin in insulin-dependent diabetes patients. The approach is intended to overcome problems with traditional islet cell transplantation, including poor rates of cell survival and engraftment, and unwanted immune responses.

Standard islet transplantation involves using a catheter to infuse islet cells into the portal vein of the liver. While minimally invasive, the procedure carries the risk of portal vein thrombosis and intraperitoneal bleeding.

According to Sernova President and CEO Philip Toleikis, about 50% of the cells die immediately. In addition, because donor islet cells are particularly sensitive to hypoxic conditions, it is unclear how many of the remaining cells actually engraft and are able to provide a therapeutic benefit.

"The islet cells don't like to be bathed in blood. They want to be next to microvessels so they can interact with them," Toleikis said.

Donor cells also are recognized by the body as foreign and elicit an inflammatory immune response. Patients thus require immunosuppressive drugs to prevent graft rejection. These drugs not only carry the risk of serious infections and malignancies, but also can impair the revascularization and function of grafted islets.

Sernova protects islet cells from immediate death and ensures sufficient...

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