Diabetes is one of the most prevalent, costly, and debilitating diseases in the world. Pancreas and islet transplants have shown success in re-establishing glucose control and reversing diabetic complications. However, both are limited by donor availability, need for continuous immunosuppression, loss of transplanted tissue due to dispersion, and lack of vascularization. To overcome the limitations of poor islet availability, here, we investigate the potential of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells differentiated into islet-like insulin-producing aggregates. Islet-like insulin-producing aggregates, characterized by gene expression, are shown to be similar to pancreatic islets and display positive immunostaining for insulin and glucagon. To address the limits of current encapsulation systems, we developed a novel three-dimensional printed, scalable, and potentially refillable polymeric construct (nanogland) to support islet-like insulin-producing aggregates' survival and function in the host body. In vitro studies showed that encapsulated islet-like insulin-producing aggregates maintained viability and function, producing steady levels of insulin for at least 4 weeks. Nanogland-islet-like insulin-producing aggregate technology here investigated as a proof of concept holds potential as an effective and innovative approach for diabetes cell therapy.
Keywords: Human bone marrow; diabetes; mesenchymal stem cells; polylactic acid; scaffold; three-dimensional printer.