Pathways Summer 2013



Summer 2013

Mo Ryan on a mission trip to Haiti
Mo Ryan, a Type 1 diabetic and daughter of Spring Point board president Pat Ryan, on a mission trip to Haiti

The difference a family can make

At a Spring Point board meeting, Pat Ryan, board president and CEO of Ryan Companies, said something at the end of the meeting that we have heard echoed by others involved in the fight to cure Type 1 diabetes:

“When my daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, I promised her I would find a cure … my daughter is now an adult and I still don’t have that cure for her.”

The Spring Point Project goal is a world without diabetes, a world where monitoring and daily insulin injections are no longer a part of anyone’s life.

If you look at the Spring Point board, it is comprised of a group of successful businessmen. Several are parents of children with Type 1 and these parents are doing everything in their power to make their children’s lives better.

Diabetes is a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, 365 days – year in and year out – it does not take a break. Many of you who are reading understand this, but we thought it important to reinforce the seriousness of diabetes, the struggles that a family goes through in dealing with the diagnosis, and the successes a family can share – because diabetes affects the whole family. It is important that we find a cure to make life better for the next generation.

The following is based on a conversation Kathy Gold, a Certified Diabetes Educator at the Diabetes Research Wellness Foundation, had with Pat Ryan’s wife, Ann, and daughter, Mo, and what they shared about what life had been like over the past years from both perspectives – living with diabetes and living with someone with diabetes.

Continue reading.

Human Islet Transplantation

On Sunday, May 5, the Minnesota Star Tribune ran a front page article on human islet transplantation progress focusing on Dr. Bernhard Hering of the University of Minnesota. It told of the tremendous progress and success of human islet cell transplants. The hope is that FDA approval will be forthcoming in the near future. However, as you can see from the short excerpt from the article (below), human islet transplants are limited because of availability.

For now, islet cells must be harvested from the organs of deceased donors. But with only 7,000 pancreas donors a year, and only 2,000 to 4,000 suitable for transplant, there won’t be enough to go around. The U is at the forefront of research that could lead to a ready supply of islet cells, however, either from specially bred pigs that live in sterile pens, or from human stem cells.

Hering said he’s betting on pigs, although the idea takes some people aback. They’re easier to control for quality and consistency, he said.

“We have genetically engineered pigs with very unique islets,” Hering said. “That is a reality. That’s not just science fiction.”

These pigs are the pigs that are produced at Spring Point! Spring Point is at the forefront of ensuring that a ready supply of porcine islets are and will be available as this technology becomes a reality. Spring Point is the only source of FDA “approved” pigs.

Read the entire article from the Minnesota Star Tribune.

A portrait of Spring Point Project’s progenitor pig, Abraham

Spring Point Happenings

The Source Animal Facility (SAF) team has been busy lately. To support the development activities of our partners, we have been optimizing the pancreas procurement and transport processes needed to enable efficient, reproducible and scalable islet manufacturing methodologies. One benefit of these activities to the research community around the country and the world is increased islet availability to enable cutting-edge research on many fronts. As a result, team members have co-authored abstracts for presentation at several scientific meetings scheduled throughout the year, including the 12th Congress of the Cell Transplant Society in Milan, Italy, the 14thWorld Congress of the International Pancreas and Islet Transplant Association held in

Monterey, CA, and the 12thCongress of the International Xenotransplantation Society in Osaka, Japan.

Additionally, we are developing the resources to perform epigenetic studies on the pigs in our herd. These studies, using our unique homogeneous herd maintained under tightly controlled nutritional and environmental conditions, could serve well as an ideal model for the epigenetic changes that occur in humans as the result of aging and disease processes.

As we continue to develop relationships with researchers and join them in fostering the spirit of collaboration, more possibilities open up. These possibilities lead to increased opportunities to utilize our islets, and accelerate the pace to clinical trials and a cure.

Progress is happening, and together, we must keep pushing the pace of that progress.

The Golf Classic Fore Diabetes

Thank you to all who participated and supported The Golf Classic Fore Diabetes Research benefiting Spring Point and the University of Minnesota Schulze Diabetes Institute. Together we raised over $350,000!

Click here to contribute

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