DRIFCan-Funded Research Projects



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DRIFCan Research Projects

In collaboration with ViaCyte New Release, Dr. Shapiro’s team is involved in a stem cell trial to treat chronic type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1D) subjects and an immunologic reset clinical trial for new onset T1D.

Dr. Shapiro also has an active research and development laboratory in the Alberta Diabetes Institute. The “deviceless” technology is currently in the pre-clinical development stage, with plans to move forward with a pilot clinical trial soon.

The Clinical Islet Transplant Program has performed over 500 transplants to date—more than any other islet transplant center.


Dr Shapiro’s April 2017 Research Presentation

 

The Edmonton Protocol


The Edmonton Protocol is named for the islet transplantation group at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where it was first devised in the late 1990s and published in The New England Journal of Medicine in July 27, 2000. It involves transplanting islet cells from a donated pancreas, which can then produce the needed insulin in the recipient’s body.

Using specialized enzymes, researchers remove islets from the pancreas of a deceased donor. Islets are extremely fragile and must therefore be transplanted immediately after they are removed.

LIMITATIONS OF THE EDMONTON PROTOCOL


Although used to successfully treat type 1 diabetes mellitus patients around the globe, the Edmonton Protocol is not without its limitations. Human islets, derived from scarce organ donors, are in short supply.

In T1D, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. For this reason, islet recipients must take immunosuppressive drugs to keep their immune system from destroying the transplant.

Dr. James Shapiro, who led the team that developed the Edmonton Protocol, is currently leading a clinical trial of a stem-cell derived islet replacement therapy.


Stem Cell-Derived Islet Replacement Therapy

Success with the Edmonton Protocol led to a partnership with ViaCyte Inc., a leading regenerative medicine research organization based in San Diego, California, that has pioneered the reproduction of stem cells.

Dr. James Shapiro, who led the team that developed the Edmonton Protocol, is currently leading a clinical trial of a stem-cell derived islet replacement therapy.

Use of these stem cells is key to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes mellitus, or T1D. In T1D, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, islet recipients must take immunosuppressive drugs to keep their immune system from destroying the transplant.

Early results show remarkable promise: it may be possible to transplant a virtually limitless source of appropriate human stem cells. When stem cells—rather than islet cells—are transplanted and end up producing insulin, they can fulfill patients’ insulin requirements without risk of rejection or the need for lifetime immunosuppression.

In other words, this transformative therapy for patients with T1D, if approved, will bring us far closer to a robustcure for diabetes than ever before.



“New treatments are sorely needed, not only for the high risk patients but for all patients suffering from this life-altering disease. The remarkable promise of the [stem cell-derived therapy] is that a virtually limitless source of appropriate human cells can be transplanted without the need for lifetime immunosuppression.  Should this treatment be approved, we will be far closer to a robust cure for diabetes than we have ever been in the past.”Dr. James Shapiro


In the News


Dr. Shapiro and members of his team regularly publish, see their latest work.


Making Diabetes a Thing of the Past
Alberta Innovates
September 8, 2015

Publication of Dr. Shapiro’s Research
The New England Journal of Medicine
July 27, 2000