Per-Ola Carlsson

Islet Transplantation and Beta-Cell Regenerative Medicine

The overall aim of the research group is to develop means to intervene with the development of type 1 diabetes mellitus and find treatment strategies to restore glucose homeostasis in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus using cell therapy.

The dual role of the P.I. Per-Ola Carlsson as experimental and clinical scientist simplifies translational approaches, and the research group is active both at the Department of Medical Cell Biology and the Department of Medical Sciences. Studies are conducted to elucidate the importance of islet endothelial, neural, stromal or their progenitor cells for beta-cell regeneration and function, and to investigate the concept of islet heterogeneity. Other studies investigate the adaptation of pancreatic islets to the implantation organ, i.e. the so called engraftment process, following transplantation, and develop bioengineering strategies (coating of islets with supporting stem cells, oxygen carriers and growth factors, as well as with use of scaffolds) to improve results of pancreatic islet transplantation by enhancement of engraftment e.g. by improved revascularization. Human islets are tested in these experimental systems with a focus to produce clinically applicable protocols.

We also perform research to develop safe and effective means to generate new human beta-cells by stimulating adult beta-cell proliferation, e.g. by stem cell stimulation, or by stem cell differentiation in vivo. Clinical studies are performed to prevent development of type 1 diabetes in patients, e.g. by autologous mesenchymal stem cell transplantation, and to develop means for beta-cell imaging by positron emission tomography. We also conduct studies to improve the results of clinical islet transplantation, e.g. by encapsulation in order to avoid immune suppression of the patients. 

Fig 1. Two-photon confocal images of vascularity in pancreatic islets with low (A) or high (B) blood perfusion (blood perfusion identified by microsphere measurements).

Fig 2. Micrograph showing vascularization of intraportally transplanted islet with disrupted integrity in the wall of a portal vein tributary. Yellow depicts insulin; red CD31 staining for blood vessels and blue DAPI.

Fig 3.  Macroencapsulation of insulin-producing cells in the oxygenated Beta-Air device for treatment in type 1 diabetes (A). Device implanted subcutaneously and oxygen tank refilled once daily through the injection ports (B).

For further information about this research group please contact
Professor Per-Ola Carlsson: