Fre 27 maj / År 40 / Nr 1 2022

Basic research meets clinical trials in the development of type-1 diabetes treatment

Professor Per-Ola Carlsson, stationed at Uppsala University, combines basic research with clinical studies. Despite transplantation of pancreatic islets being an established method of treating type-1 diabetes, further research is of utmost importance in order to ensure that the transplanted islets actually survive in their new environment.

Clinical practitioners are seldom active in basic research, but Per-Ola Carlsson has a strong belief in successfully combining knowledge traditionally generated from two different worlds. Focusing on type-1 diabetes, Per-Ola’s team is aiming for developments of new treatments as well as methods of preventing the developmental process of the disease.

Improving the results of islet transplantation
Type-1 diabetes is the most common chronic illness among children in Sweden. Pancreatic islets are of high interest due to their role in producing insulin. By transplanting the pancreatic islets into the liver of patients with type-1 diabetes the condition can be treated, as proven in several clinical cases.
The basic research at Uppsala University is mainly concerned with the process of cell development and interaction. The aim of the clinical research is above all to ensure the survival of transplanted islets at this stage. “Our core focus is to improve the results of the procedure”, Per-Ola Carlsson states, referring to the islet transplantation.

Future methods to replicate insulin-producing cells
The number of patients receiving this kind of treatment is restricted. Hopefully more patients will be granted islet transplantation in the future, but according to Per-Ola a lot depends on the matter of securing islets after transplantation, ensuring their survival and thereby reducing the need to transplant large amounts of tissue.
“We also hope to develop methods of promoting the replication of insulin-producing cells in the future. In order to excel to this level, we must first gain a thorough understanding of the function of pancreatic islets. Therefore, we combine basic research with clinical trials, in order to gain understanding and develop theories, and then verifying our work by testing it in a clinical environment”.
The ideal location for islet transplantation is yet to be determined through further research. The liver is so far the most used location, but the problem of a large amount of cells dying directly after transplantation remains.