Advances in Therapeutic Treatment for Type 1 Diabetes without Immune Suppression

One approach that researchers have been exploring to treat type 1 diabetes (T1D) is cell therapy. By introducing new insulin-producing beta cells, or other types of cells, scientists strive to once again, enable those with T1D to produce insulin in response to blood glucose levels. One common challenge with this technique is a renewed autoimmune response, or loss of function. Cell therapy typically requires immune suppression which can put individuals at risk for other complications.

However, in a recent study, researchers tested a new method of transplanting therapeutic beta cells by using a retrievable device with a silicone reservoir. The cells are further protected by a porous polymeric membrane that allows cell killing macrophages to enter the device without destroying the transplanted cells, or that prevents them from entering the cell at all.

When tested in immunocompetent mice, the device supported normal blood glucose levels for more than 75 days without the need for immunosuppression. The transplanted cells were able to effectively produce erythropoietin, which in turn improves oxygen supply to the body, and also generates insulin to manage blood sugar levels.

This is a notable step forward in improving cell therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. More research and testing are required to determine how this process translates into human models. Researchers have been trying to limit or eliminate the need for immune suppression while transplanting healthy pancreatic, islet, and stem cells into the body to control blood glucose levels.

Dan Anderson, Ph.D., a member of DRC’s Scientific Review Committee, is the senior author of the article, which was published recently. DRC is excited to see where these advances may lead and what it could mean for the future of cell transplantation techniques and cell therapy for T1D. The organization provides critical funding for a wide range of projects related to improving diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease. Learn more about current studies and how to support these efforts by visiting

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