Researcher Merigeng Qi studies islets under a micr

Future Research

In addition to performing successful islet cell transplants, our scientists around the world are also working on ways to make it safer and more effective.

Attain a Biological License for Islet Transplantation

The Chicago Diabetes Project is currently conducting a phase III licensure trial in islet transplantation to successfully apply for a biological license for islet transplantation. This will allow islet transplantation to be recognized as standard medical care for brittle type I diabetic patients, and is mandatory for reimbursement by medical insurances.

Encapsulating Islet Cells

It is the ultimate goal of the Chicago Diabetes Project to transplant donated human islet cells enclosed in biocompatible capsules (made from alginate, a product derived from seaweed.) These capsules have tiny holes small enough to block immune cells from getting in and destroying the islets, but large enough to allow nutrients and insulin to pass through. When transplanted, the capsules prevent rejection and recurrence of diabetes, and may eliminate the need for chronic, systemic immunosuppressive drugs.

Study Encapsulated Human Islet Transplants in Humans

We are also planning a phase I/II clinical trial with encapsulated human islet allotransplantation (link to definition) in brittle type I diabetic patients. This will be the first clinical trial of this nature conducted in an academic center in the US, and will ultimately answer the question whether the concept of microencapsulation of islet grafts works in humans or not.

An Unlimited Source of Islet Cells

To control patients’ blood-sugar levels, the Chicago Diabetes Project plans to produce an unlimited source of islet cells in the laboratory that are suitable and safe for transplantation in humans. By delivering a limitless source of pancreatic islet cells, we offer the millions of patients throughout the world a chance at living a normal and healthy life free of the complications of managing diabetes.