DRI Presentations at the 2023 IPITA-IXA-CTRMS Joint Congress
The Diabetes Research Institute made a significant impact at the recent joint congress of The International Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (IPITA), the International Xenotransplantation Association (IXA), and the Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society (CTRMS) in San Diego. This event brought together leading experts in the field of pancreas and islet transplantation, as well as pioneers in regenerative medicine.
The event witnessed a series of remarkable presentations by internationally prominent scientists. The focus of this congress was to exchange knowledge and expertise and promote advancements in the treatment of human diabetes through pancreas and islet transplantation.
Dr. Rodolfo Alejandro – Director of Clinical Cell Transplantation and Co-Director of the Cell Transplant Center at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) – led the way with a presentation on the promising results of islet transplantation on the omentum, a tissue in the abdomen. Over a span of 6 years, this method has demonstrated its potential to maintain excellent blood sugar control with minimal fluctuations, reducing the risk of low blood sugar. While some challenges remain, such as islet loss shortly after transplantation, this approach shows that the omentum provides an encouraging environment for transplanted islets.
Following the presentations, Dr. David Baidal, discussed a remarkable case of a 50-year-old woman living with type 1 diabetes (T1D), who has maintained insulin independence with outstanding glycemic control for 17 years post-islet transplantation. This achievement underscores the potential of islet transplantation to keep blood sugar levels close to normal for extended periods and eliminate severe hypoglycemia. Dr. Baidal also presented findings from a large study on the comparative outcomes of two types of islet transplants, islet cells alone (ITA) and islet cells in individuals who have already undergone kidney transplants (IAK). Although initial results favored ITA in terms of blood sugar control, other factors like medication use indicated potential improvements in ITA outcomes. Further research is necessary to understand the full impact on IAK recipients.
Dr. Joana Lemos, shared insights from a comprehensive observational study examining the impact of islet autoantibodies on the success of islet transplantation in people with T1D. The study revealed that those with persistent autoantibodies against GAD65 and IA2 experienced shorter-lasting islet transplants. This suggests that autoantibodies may contribute to the failure of transplanted cells. Additionally, another study looked at the occurrence of heart problems in patients who had undergone islet transplantation, finding a potentially lower rate of heart issues compared to those with T1D who did not receive transplantation.
Dr. Alice Tomei, took the stage to discuss a collaboration with Sernova Corp, a company dedicated to improving treatments for T1D. They have made substantial progress in enhancing a protective coating for insulin-producing cells (islets) that are placed inside a device called the Cell Pouch. This innovation aims to make islets safer and more effective in controlling blood sugar levels, reducing the need for additional medications. Pre-clinical studies showed promising results, and this development brings us closer to a breakthrough in managing T1D without extensive drug regimens.
The congress concluded with the highlight of the event, as Dr. Camilo Ricordi, founder of CTRMS, delivered a special keynote celebrating the 30th anniversary of the society. He reflected on the society’s 30-year legacy, from its inception as the Cell Transplant Society to its transformation into the Cell Transplant and Regenerative Medicine Society. During the event, Dr. Ricordi introduced Dr. Arnold Caplan, the pioneer scientist who discovered MSCs, who delivered the prestigious “2023 Camillo Ricordi Lecture”, an esteemed honor established by CTRMS. Dr. Ricordi, a true legend in the field, received a well-deserved standing ovation from attendees for his extraordinary contributions to the world of regenerative medicine.
The DRI, a key participant in this historic event, stands as a beacon of excellence in the field of pancreas and islet transplantation. DRI’s longstanding and recognized global presence highlights its pioneering work and its commitment to improving the lives of individuals with diabetes. The Institute’s contributions to this congress underscore its continued dedication to advancing the clinical practice of pancreas and islet transplantation, playing an integral role in the history and future of the field.
The IPITA-IXA-CTRMS joint congress showcased the incredible progress and innovation in pancreas and islet transplantation, leaving all attendees inspired by the possibilities that lie ahead in the quest to improve the lives of individuals with diabetes.