Dr. Finger: New method of pancreatic islet cryopreservation is a step towards diabetes cure

Associate Professor of Surgery, Erik Finger, MD, PhD, and John Bischof, PhD, a mechanical engineering Distinguished McKnight University Professor and director of the University’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine, have developed a new method of islet cryopreservation.

The method that they developed helps solve the storage problem for specialized pancreatic islet cells. The process involves storing the cells at a very low temperature and then rewarming them. It enables them to gain the potential for on-demand islet transplantation while maintaining quality and long-term preservation.

In their study, “Pancreatic islet cryopreservation by vitrification achieves high viability, function, recovery and clinical scalability for transplantation” published in Nature Medicine, the method demonstrated high cell survival rates and functionality of 90%, even after nine months of storage. The transplantation of these cryopreserved islet cells cured diabetes in 92% of mice recipients within 24 to 48 hours.

“This exciting development by our multidisciplinary research team brings engineering approaches to solve an important medical challenge—the cure of diabetes,” said Dr. Finger.

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