Product News: InSphero Launches 3D InSight™ Pancreatic Microislets for Diabetes and Toxicity Research

18 Jun 2014

Recently published 3D human and rat “pseudo-islets” display long-lived, robust metabolic activity, offer convenient solution for islet transplantation, anti-diabetic drug development, and assessment of acute and chronic toxicity of the endocrine pancreas.

InSphero AG recently announced the launch of 3D InSight™ Human and Rat Pancreatic Microislets, further expanding the company’s catalog of organotypic 3D models produced using their patented hanging-drop production technology. The product launch follows InSphero‘s April publication of the microislets in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, characterizing their physiological properties and potential for use in islet transplantation, as well as a convenient in vitro model system for drug development and toxicity studies.

Primary human and rat pancreatic islets are widely used as in vitro models for diabetes and metabolic disorders, but current harvesting and isolation methods result in tissue impurities, size heterogeneity, and damage to cells that negatively impact the robustness of data generated, and hinder their use as a high-throughput tool for drug discovery.

3D InSight™ Pancreatic Microislets solve the two major shortcomings of current methods used to isolate primary human or rat pancreatic tissue: inconsistent microislet size and heterogeneous cellular composition, both of which contribute to variations in data. Controlling size is very important, says Dr. Wolfgang Moritz, co-author of the publication and co-founder of InSphero: “As far as microislets are concerned, bigger is not better. Smaller microislets produce more insulin per cell than larger ones, and are subject to less oxidative stress during long-term culture.“ Typically small islets must be tediously hand-picked for in vitro studies, a process that also wastes a lot of the donor material. “We’ve standardized the process and dramatically reduced waste by first dissociating the tissue and then allowing a defined number of cells to reassemble in the hanging drop platform. This results in “pseudo-islets” of remarkably consistent size, which is extremely important for cell viability, functionality, and to obtain the desired well-to-well consistency required for high-throughput applications.“

The cellular composition of each microislet tissue is also critical to ensuring their metabolic activity reflects that of native pancreatic islets. The InSphero process results in microislets with a more uniform ratio of alpha, beta, and delta cells, the cells of the pancreas responsible for production of glucagon, insulin, and somatostatin, respectively. States Dr. Moritz, “3D InSight™ Pancreatic Microislets display glucose-responsive production of insulin for up to four weeks in culture, giving the researcher a metabolically active model suitable for long-term, repeat-dose efficacy and toxicity studies. The consistent size, more homogeneous cell composition, and automation-compatible format has generated significant demand for the islets for studies ranging from anti-diabetic drug efficacy to assessment of endocrine pancreatic toxicity.“