Development of a Tissue Engineered Pancreatic Substitute Based on Genetically Engineered Cells
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Genetically engineered cells have the potential to solve the cell availability problem in developing a pancreatic tissue substitute for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD). These cells can be beta-cells genetically engineered so that they can be grown in culture, such as the betaTC3 and betaTC tet mouse insulinomas developed by Efrat et al; or, they can be non-beta cells genetically engineered to secrete insulin constitutively or under transcriptional regulation. The aim of this work was to thoroughly characterize and improve the secretion dynamics of pancreatic substitutes based on genetically engineered cells. One issue involved with the continuous beta-cell lines is the remodeling of the cells inside an encapsulated cell system, which may affect the insulin secretion dynamics exhibited by the construct. To evaluate the effect of remodeling on the secretion properties of the construct, we used a single-pass perfusion system to characterize the insulin secretion dynamics of different alginate beads in response to step-ups and downs in glucose concentration. Results indicated that the secretion dynamics of beads indeed changed after long-term culture. On the other hand, data with a growth-regulated cell line, betaTC tet cells, showed that the secretion profile of beads can be retained if the cell growth is suppressed. A major concern associated with genetically engineered cells of non-beta origin is that they generally exhibit sub-optimal insulin secretion characteristics relative to normal pancreatic islets. Instead of relying on molecular tools such as manipulating gene elements, our approach was to introduce a glucose-responsive material acting as a control barrier for insulin release from a device containing constitutively secreting cells. Proof-of-concept experiments were performed with a disk-shaped prototype based on recombinant HepG2 hepatomas or C2C12 myoblasts, which constitutively secreted insulin, and concanavalin A (con A)-based glucose-responsive material as the control barrier. Results demonstrated that the a hybrid pancreatic substitute consisting of constitutively secreting cells and glucose-responsive material has the potential to provide a more physiologic regulation of insulin release than the cells by themselves or in an inert material.