Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death. Patients with type 1 diabetes have their insulin secreting cells destroyed by the immune system and require daily insulin injections. Pancreatic islet transplantation is an effective treatment that can dramatically reduce daily doses or even eliminate dependence on external insulin.
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Ref: Sensing and Sensibility: Single-Islet-based Quality Control Assay of Cryopreserved Pancreatic Islets with Functionalized Hydrogel Microcapsules. Advanced Healthcare Materials (25 November 2015) | DOI: 10.1002/adhm.201500515
Despite decades of research and clinical studies of islet transplantations, finding simple yet reliable islet quality assays that correlate accurately with in vivo potency is still a major challenge, especially for real-time and single-islet-based quality assessment. Herein, proof-of-concept studies of a cryopreserved microcapsule-based quality control assays are presented for single islets. Individual rat pancreatic islets and fluorescent oxygen-sensitive dye (FOSD) are encapsulated in alginate hydrogel microcapsules via a microfluidic device. To test the susceptibility of the microcapsules and the FOSD to cryopreservation, the islet microcapsules containing FOSD are cryopreserved and the islet functionalities (adenosine triphosphate, static insulin release measurement, and oxygen consumption rate) are assessed after freezing and thawing steps. The cryopreserved islet capsules with FOSD remain functional after encapsulation and freezing/thawing procedures, validating a simple yet reliable individual-islet-based quality control method for the entire islet processing procedure prior to transplantation. This work also demonstrates that the functionality of cryopreserved islets can be improved by introducing trehalose into the routinely used cryoprotectant dimethyl sulfoxide. The functionalized alginate hydrogel microcapsules with embedded FOSD and optimized cryopreservation protocol presented in this work serve as a versatile islet quality assay and offer tremendous promise for tackling existing challenges in islet transplantation procedures.