PhD conferral Rick H.W. de Vries
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. C.A. van Blitterswijk
Co-supervisor: Dr. A.A. van Apeldoorn
Keywords: type 1 diabetes, medical device, cell transplantation
"A bioengineered microwell-array device to treat type 1 diabetes"
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease characterized by destruction of insulin-producing cells with the islets of Langerhans (islets). Clinical islet transplantation is a therapy where islets from a deceased donor are transplanted in the liver of type 1 diabetic patients to restore their blood glucose levels. This leads to a reduced use or even absence of insulin injections by patients. However, the liver is a suboptimal transplantation site leading to loss of islets and suboptimal long-term effects. This thesis investigated the development of a medical implant that can be used to transplant islets to sites other than the liver. Elaborative evaluation of implant design and cell packing have resulted in an implant that consists of so-called microwells: small porous pockets that offer individual housing to islets. These microwells ensure that islets maintain alive and functional over time. Safety of the implant and the ideal implantation site of the medical device were extensively investigated. Special focus is placed on how to translate working prototypes of medical devices from a university setting towards the clinics, to ensure that these new products reach the patient.
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