Life-changing Research: Artificial Skin to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

July 29, 2016 0 comments

Artificial skin used to revolutionise treatment of burns patients across the globe is now being trialled as a potential site to transplant specialised cells used in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

This exciting work is being led by two leading Royal Adelaide Hospital clinicians, Professor Toby Coates, Director of Kidney and Pancreatic Islet Transplantation and A/Professor John Greenwood AM, Director of the Burns Unit. In collaboration they are looking into the effectiveness of transplanting islet cells into artificial skin made of biodegradable polymer, rather than into the liver.

This breakthrough in transplantation science is only a reality thanks to past research in this area undertaken by Prof Coates, supported by the generous base of Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia and collaborating partner The Hospital Research Foundation (THRF).

The work has attracted attention all over the world with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) International contributing nearly $1 million to develop the new transplant procedure.

“Traditionally we transplant islet cells into the liver to help treat type 1 diabetes patients, however the harsh and unforgiving environment of the liver means that a large number of islet cells die during the process,” explained Prof Coates.

“The key component of this research is to modify and optimise the artificial skin to create a new site to transplant islet cells in people with type 1 diabetes.
“This approach is now possible through the breakthrough in artificial skin technology pioneered by A/Professor Greenwood, who was named the 2016 South Australian of the Year, which has changed the way burns are treated globally.

“Transplanting islets into the artificial skin instead of the liver is potentially a much safer procedure, which will reduce the total number of islets needed to transplant for diabetes and allow more people access to this life-changing transplant procedure.”

THRF’s CEO, Paul Flynn says this research is a game changer for people living with diabetes.

“We’re very proud of the word-class research being undertaken right here in South Australia and thank our generous donors for their ongoing support of research that has the ability to progress from the lab to a potential life-changing treatment,” he said.

“Receiving international funding from JDRF for this unique ‘world-first’ collaborative project is a wonderful achievement and I congratulate everyone involved.

“For us to be involved in a project that could deliver a potential cure for Type 1 diabetes is incredibly rewarding and exciting.”

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