Cell transplantation as a novel therapy for endocrine disordersDecember 3, 2022
Introduction: Adrenal glands are essential for life and control fundamental physiological functions through steroid synthesis and hormone secretion. The two main hormones secreted by the adrenal gland are cortisol (glucocorticoid) and aldosterone (mineralocorticoid). Through these hormones, the adrenal glands play a critical role in the regulation of volume status and salt homeostasis, carbohydrate metabolism and are a central mediator of the stress response.
The problem: The inability to produce adrenal steroids results in adrenal insufficiency (AI), a life-threatening disorder that can lead to significant morbidity including excess weight gain, hypertension and metabolic syndrome. Current treatments consist in replacement of the missing hormones; however, it has three main limitations: inappropriate glucocorticoid substitution leads to unwanted side effects; hormone replacement cannot mimic the physiological circadian rhythm
of glucocorticoid release seen in healthy individuals; and glucocorticoid secretion upon stress cannot be achieved with current medications. Therefore, alternative therapies must be developed.
The proposed solution: Cellular therapies have recently emerged as potential solution to treat disease where endogenous cells/tissue do not function properly. In the adrenal field, such therapies can have the potential to overcome the above-mentioned limitations of the current treatments. Using our expertise in cell isolation and engineering, we aim to use steroid-producing cells as a replacement therapy for AI. To avoid immune recognition of implanted cells and for enhanced safety, we will encapsulate the cells in immune-isolating devices developed in-house.