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Clinical Program

Our Clinical Program focuses on the following areas:

Islet Transplantation for the Cure of type 1 Diabetes

Historically, combined pancreas-kidney transplants and solitary pancreas transplants have been offered since the 1980s with steadily improving success rates. Currently, these transplants demonstrate excellent short- and long-term graft survival while employing standardized graft recovery techniques, refined surgical procedures, state-of-the-art immunosuppressive therapy, and comprehensive post-transplant care.

The Islet Transplant Program at the University of Wisconsin was initiated in 2002 as the first islet transplant program in the state of Wisconsin and was developed for the purpose of enhancing the available transplant options for patients with type 1 diabetes in the state.

In a short period of time, the islet transplant program has achieved clinical results in parallel to the best islet transplant programs in the world.

Our main pre-clinical and clinical effort focuses:

  • Determination of the possibility of reducing the number of islets required to achieve insulin independence by using insulin sensitizers. In parallel we are also studying whether the addition of insulin sensitizers could provide a protective effect to facilitate better long-term metabolic control.
  • Determination of whether the use of cytokine blockade strategies at the time of islet transplantation minimizes the non-specific inflammatory response that occurs immediatedly after transplantation and facilitates better islet engraftment.
  • Determination of the effect of incretin analogs of DDP-4 Inhibitors in islet transplantation.
  • Testing of new immunosupressive agents.

To accommodate and anticipate expanded clinical volume, we have recently expanded our own isolation facility at the Waisman Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility (WCBF). The WCBF is a state-of-the-art cGMP FDA-approved unit under direction of Dr. Derek Hei, which is immediately adjacent to University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinicss. In this facility, state-of-the-art cGMP guidelines to maximize patient safety are followed to prepare islets for clinical use. Islet preparations are not to be used exclusively for transplantation at the University of Wisconsin, but to be distributed for transplantation at other transplant programs which lack an isolation facility. Also, this facility is used to isolate islets for distribution across the country to beta cell researchers interested in human islet biology.

Islet Autotransplantation for Chronic Pancreatitis

Islet transplantation is not only used for the cure of type 1 diabetes mellitus, but also can be used to prevent surgically-induced diabetes in patients with chronic pancreatitis who require total pancreatectomy to eliminate the intractable pain associated with this devastating disease. Patients are given back their own islets without the need for long-term immunosuppressive therapy. After these procedures, patients achieve complete resolution of their chronic pain and become re-establish normal lifestyle.

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