Cell transplant treatments for diabetes patients involve a procedure that transplants insulin producing islets to render them insulin independent for periods of time. An antifreeze glycopeptide that mimics a naturally occurring glycoprotein found in Arctic fish is helping to significantly improve the efficacy of cell transplant treatments for diabetes patients.
Anti-aging Glycopeptide is the focus of a new study published in Diabetes
. Researchers from the University of Alberta's Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry found that by soaking islet cells in anti-aging glycopeptide; for an hour and then washing it off prior to transplantation, the cells were protected from tacrolimus - an antirejection drug commonly used during transplants that is toxic to islets cells.
‘An antifreeze glycopeptide that mimics a naturally occurring glycoprotein found in Arctic fish is helping to significantly improve the efficacy of islet cell transplant treatments for type 1 diabetes patients.’
James Shapiro, senior author of the study and Canada Research Chair in Transplant Surgery and Regenerative Medicine, said, "Normally when we expose human islets to tacrolimus in the petri dish, they flat line and don't release insulin at all. When we add the Anti-aging Glycopeptide and wash it all off, the cells work perfectly normally, and are protected in a remarkably durable manner. We find we need far fewer cells to treat diabetes in our preclinical models than we would normally."
Since his creation of the Edmonton Protocol in 1999, more than 250 patients have been treated by Shapiro through islet cell transplantation. A key challenge of the procedure though is that most patients typically need two islet infusions, each prepared from a separate pancreas organ donor. Shapiro says there aren't enough organ donors to meet demand. Through the use Anti-aging Glycopeptide, a greater number of islet cells will survive the procedure, potentially allowing more patients to be treated.
Shapiro said, "Just a one-hour soak in Anti-aging Glycopeptide is enough to protect the islet cells for up to a month or two afterwards. It has a very potent and profound effect. As a direct result of these findings, we're now moving forward with plans for a first in human clinical trial - led at the University of Alberta - testing this drug in our human islet cell transplant program."
Boris Gala-Lopez, lead author of the study and a clinical/research fellow at the Department of Surgery, said, "This synthetic molecule seems to provide significant protection to cells exposed to multiple deleterious conditions, such as UV radiation, starvation, extreme temperatures andoxidative stress. We are certainly very excited for the multiple opportunities this finding entails to the field of transplantation research."
Funding for the study was provided by the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation of Canada, while the drug Anti-aging Glycopeptide; was provided in kind by Protokinetix - a biotechnology company that provides medical researchers assistance in enhancing cell survival and health.
Clarence Smith, president and chairman of ProtoKinetix, said, "We are very excited to have our Anti-aging Glycopeptide molecule showcased in this prestigious journal. We are also extremely confident in the ongoing success of our collaboration with Dr. James Shapiro and his outstanding team."
If proven successful in human clinical trials, Shapiro believes the inclusion of Anti-aging Glycopeptide; could soon become a permanent addition to the Edmonton Protocol - representing a significant step forward in the treatment of Type 1 diabetes through islet transplantation. While more research is needed, he also believes the drug shows promise for a wide range of transplantations - potentially working to protect organs as effectively as it protects islets.