Newswise — DALLAS, TX (May 13, 2014) – Baylor Research Institute has been awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent Office for a potential strategy to improve the outcomes of islet cell transplantation for patients with type 1 diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.

The Baylor research team determined that withaferin A (WA), a plant-derived compound with strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, is a strong inhibitor of the inflammatory response in islets, protecting them against cytokine-induced cell damage while improving the survival of transplanted islets. The results suggest that WA could be incorporated as an adjunctive treatment to current immunosuppressive therapies to improve islet transplant outcome. “Currently, no anti-inflammatory compound with broad benefits such as withaferin A is used in the islet transplant field. The experimental research performed at Baylor on this compound has improved the basic understanding of the molecular mechanism involved in islet damage during the peritransplant period,” said Bashoo Naziruddin, PhD, director of the Islet Cell Laboratory at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

The Baylor research team was the first to report that when islet cells are injected back into the patient they are subject to a severe inflammatory reaction, which can damage the islet cells. Using molecular analysis, they obtained evidence that the inflammatory reaction occurs within hours of the transplant.

“Islet cell transplant continues to show promise for treating patients with type 1 diabetes. Auto islet cell transplant already is used successfully to treat patients with chronic pancreatitis,” Dr. Naziruddin said. “We hope the use of WA will strengthen existing immunosuppressive strategies to improve current islet transplant outcomes by preserving the mass and function of engrafted islets.”

In addition to Dr. Naziruddin, inventors of the patented procedure include Marlon Levy, MD, FACS, medical director, Islet Cell Transplant Program, Baylor Health Care System, Shinichi Matsumoto, MD, PhD, former director of the Islet Cell Laboratory at Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth, and Han Peng, graduate student.

About Baylor Scott & White HealthBaylor Scott & White Health, the organization formed from the 2013 merger between Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare, is today the largest not-for-profit health care system in the state of Texas. With total assets of $8.6 billion* and serving a geographic area larger than the state of Maine, Baylor Scott & White Health has the vision and resources to provide its patients continued quality care while creating a model system for a dramatically changing health care environment. The organization now includes 46 hospitals, more than 500 patient care sites, more than 6,000 active physicians, 36,000 employees and the Scott & White Health Plan. For More Information visit:

* based on unaudited fiscal year 2014 financial statements

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