Assessing the immune response to stem cell-derived beta cells and associated bioprinted devices for diabetes cell therapy

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease where pancreatic beta cells are destroyed and no longer produce insulin, a hormone that maintains healthy blood sugar levels. People with T1D must replace insulin with injections or a pump. Although insulin is lifesaving, maintaining normal blood sugar levels is often a struggle for people with diabetes. Extreme low or high blood sugar can have deadly consequences. Replacing beta cells through islet transplantation is a promising therapy that allows the restoration of normal blood glucose levels. However, there are many challenges with this including limited donor supply, and patients must take powerful immunosuppressant drugs to prevent the immune system from rejecting the islets. Although beta cells derived from stem cells provide a potentially unlimited source of insulin-producing cells, immune-mediated rejection is still an issue once transplanted. This project aims to protect these cells with an innovative 3D bioprinted device that is designed to help them survive. However, in order to do this, key immune responses must be identified to both cells and device material. If successful, this will provide a new treatment option for people with T1D.

Faculty Supervisor:

Timothy Kieffer


Paul Belmonte


Aspect Biosystems Ltd




Professional, scientific and technical services


University of British Columbia



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