Last week, one of the partners of LSFM4LIFE project, Dr. Kourosh Saeb-Parsy, from the Department of Surgery at Cambridge University, gave a video-lecture on organ transplantation.
The concept of Chimera
Dr Kourosh Saeb-Parsy is a University Lecturer and Consultant Transplant Surgeon at the University of Cambridge. His role in LSFM4LIFE project is the provision of pancreas tissue from human organs for development of organoids; the investigation of their in vivo efficacy, stability and safety; and finally he is also giving clinical input for the market analysis.
Recently, Dr Saeb-Parsy gave a lecture during Hay Festival for school pupils, explaining organ transplantation.
In this 3-min lecture, Dr Saeb-Parsy is giving a comprehensive overview of the past, present and future of transplantation. He is adding that, for the very first time, the transplantation concept was mentioned about 9000 BC by Homer in his Odyssey as a generated animal Chimera.
He is also emphasizing the importance of organs transplantation, calling it a “life-saving treatment” for those patients with end-stage disease of heart or liver failure.
“Over the last half a century, we’ve made a fantastic progress and we are now able to transplant a variety of organs, including the kidneys, pancreas, livers, hearts, lungs, intestines and so on”.
“However, the effectivity of transplantation, it often raises difficult ethical, moral and legal issues”, – says Dr Saeb-Parsy, adding that it is important that general society, physicians and patients are aware of the benefits of transplantation.
While the most common way to receive an organ for transplantation, is to use the one that was donated, it could raise potential problems. First, there are not as many donor organs available, as patients who require them. Secondly, as the matter of fact, most donors are dying from diseases and their organs are not in the perfect condition. And, even if for the majority of patients these organs can be beneficial, to some it can cause a reversed effect.
With appearance of new technologies, that are able to produce organs, this kind of treatment is becoming available to more patients. But these organs, manufactured in the machines, must be first assessed on suitability.
However, there is another potential way to produce organs for transplantation: to use stem cells in order to create or generate new cells, and ultimately, tissues and organs for transplantation.
This innovation is a core of LSFM4LIFE project.
Using transplantation as a cure for Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder or a genetic defect, when pancreas is unable to produce insulin and regulate the level of glucose in blood. Those patients are life-long dependant on insulin injections, that can’t cure the disease but only provides a temporary treatment.
Researchers and partners of LSFM4LIFE project came up together with a goal to create a permanent cure for T1D. While there are not enough donor pancreases to be transplanted to all the patients with T1D, the scientists decided to conduct a research, that would involve production of long-term renewing pancreatic cells, also called organoids, for cellular therapy.
To achieve this challenging goal, the LSFM4LIFE partners need to develop and define a stable insulin-producing human pancreas organoid model. Along with this, the researchers will also need to create an animal-free and well-defined gel to grow those organoids. Finally, over time the researchers plan to build cell banks from which immunologically compatible cell types can be selected for every recipient.
LSFM4LIFE project, if successful, has a chance to become a life-changing experience for the patients with type 1 diabetes.