New protocols using human islets from 2 to 4 donors per transplant recipient, plus changes to anti-rejection drugs, have greatly improved clinical trail outcomes. These improvements have moved the initial success rate for insulin dependence from 10% to nearly 90% post-transplant, with more than 50% remaining insulin independent after 5 years.
As human islet transplant moves towards the final phase of clinical trails, we will continue to find ways to increase patient access to islet transplantation. Some examples include:
- Developing a new enzyme combination, used to prepare islets for transplantation. We have obtained approval from the National Institutes on Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test this new blend in clinical trials. The goal here is to maximize the quality and quantity of the human islet supply.
- Assessing the potential of Treg cells in monkeys to prevent rejection of transplanted human islets without need for daily immunosuppression.