SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Devon Headen
TIME: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 3:30 p.m.
PLACE: MSE, 1224
TITLE: Synthetic Hydrogel Microencapsulation of Pancreatic Islets for Improved Engraftment and Immunomodulation
COMMITTEE: Dr. Andrés J. García, Chair (ME)
Dr. Hang Lu (ChBE)
Dr. Peter M. Thulé (Emory)
Dr. W. Robert Taylor (Emory)
Dr. Athanassios Sambanis (BME)


Type 1 diabetes affects one in every 400-600 children and adolescents in the US and incidence is increasing at a rate of 3% per year. Standard therapy with exogenous insulin is burdensome, and often is only effective at delaying morbidity. Pancreatic islet transplantation has emerged as a promising strategy for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. However, few patients undergo transplants because donor islets are scarce, and graft maintenance requires heavy immunosuppression. Additionally, this cell based therapy is limited by inadequate blood supply and loss of viability/function following transplantation.
The objective of this project is to enhance allogenic islet engraftment, survival, and function via dual-layer engineered polyethylene glycol maleimide (PEG-MAL) hydrogels to shield transplanted cells from the host immune system and to enhance engraftment and vascularization of the shielded islets. Flow-focusing microfluidic droplet approaches will be utilized for microencapsulation of islets for immunoisolation, and a degradable, vascular-inductive PEG-MAL delivery vehicle will be used to enhance engraftment.