Diabetes mellitus (DM) affects millions of people worldwide. Development of novel tissue culture techniques for maintaining pancreatic islets is critical in order to improve access to donor material, better understand the disease group and to support the basis for improved transplantation therapies.1
Pancreatic islets are clusters of non-proliferating cells with limited viability making them difficult to utilize for long-term studies. Constant access to donor material is also a challenge, in particular, for human-sourced pancreatic islets. Most of the donor pancreas are sought for islet transplantation procedures with limited availability for research use. As a result, there is an unmet need to improve the viability and maintenance of islets to alleviate the accessibility concerns for research. Currently, pancreatic islets are utilized in a variety of research areas with a primary focus on understanding and improving therapies for diabetes.
In a recent study (Szebeni et al., Cytotechnology. 2017 Apr; 69(2): 359–369), pancreatic islets were cultured in the RAFTTM 3D System and compared to a conventional 2D system. The data from this study shows that islets embedded in the RAFTTM 3D System maintain their tissue integrity better than in monolayer and suspension cultures. "Overall the use of RAFTTM provided excellent results in preserving islet spheroid viability, structure integrity and insulin, glucagon production for at least 18 days ex vivo". (Szebeni et al., p. 369)