Optimization of pancreatic islets transplantation through fibroin scaffold
PANAGENESI is a project funded by Regione
Lombardia in the V Meta-distretti framework programme,
with the involvement of three Italian textile companies
and a research center, supported by a hospital and an
American research center (see partners).
Nowadays, pancreatic islets transplantation is one of
the most effective treatments for diabetes mellitus type I.
The interest aroused by this procedure in the
scientific world derives from the actual clinical
success achieved and the interesting prospects.
However, there are still some issues to be faced,
such as the need for immunosuppressive therapy to
avoid rejection, the limited duration of the graft
benefits, the inadequate engraftment of the transplanted
islets, this requiring more pancreas to process in
order to obtain a sufficient number of islets for a single patient.
Improving the engraftment of the islets is now an
important research area, with proposed strategies
which include the identification of an alternative
site for the transplantation and the use of molecules
reducing the inflammatory reaction in the implant site.
Fibroin, a protein extracted from silk, has been
extensively studied in tissue engineering for biomedical
applications due to its biocompatibility, slow degradability
and mechanical properties. Thanks to recent studies,
fibroin can be modeled in various formats and shapes
(films, fibers, nets, meshes, membranes, threads, and sponges)
resulting into a remarkable “scaffold” for different
kinds of cells support and adhesion, promoting in vivo tissue repair.
Finally, thanks to its molecular surface and is highly
biocompatible and its system is characterized by a reduced inflammatory component.
PANAGENESI is meant to provide valuable answers to the
transplantation needs, by optimizing engraftment of the
islets at the site of transplantation through the use
of fibroin. This could lead to a reduction in the
number of islets needed for successful transplantation
and a prolongation of their function over time.