the Project

an encapsulating strategy based on a bio-inspired material that mimics elastin

islets transplantation

Beta-cell replacement therapy is currently seen as a potential cure to diabetes. Pancreatic islets transplantation has been proposed as a possible therapy to successfully replace beta-cells. However, this strategy has several countersides:

  • complications related to immunosuppression
  • overall decay of graft function in all patients within 1-5 years;
  • shortage of donors: as at least two donors are needed for each receptor.

our strategy

The starting material is a highly innovative and versatile family of protein-based biopolymers. It will be combined with cutting-edge technologies to form a coating that will provide a physiologically ideal environment for the implanted cells so that they can survive and function in the body without being identified as hostile.

Once implanted, the final structure will be safe and biocompatible, semipermeable and strategically assembled to allow insulin diffusion from the inside, but also the access to blood supplies and nutrient flows to the transplanted cells.

Despite their efficiently immunoisolating their content, the coating will be able to promote complete integration and fusion of the capsule and the surrounding tissues generating a real continuity between the inner and the outer cells. 

The challenge consists in designing a capsule that ensures the appropriate interaction between trasplanted pancreatic cells and the host tissues.

our challenges


If the biomaterial is recognized by the immune system as foreign, acute and chronic inflammatory phenomena may occur and may give rise to a fibrotic process. The formation of a fibrotic capsule around the implanted pancreatic cells would drastically reduce the permeability of the implant surface and, consequently, thwart insulin release and cause death of implanted cells by hypoxia.

Capsule perm-selectivity

Semi-permeable nature and adequate selectivity. That means that the membrane must be permeable to the entry of oxygen, nutrients and glucose into the capsule and to the insulin output, but it must also be impermeable to immune cells, antibodies and, ideally, to potentially toxic cytokines and complement proteins.

Capsule-host tissue integration

The surrounding cells from the host tissues must be able to interact with the implant, adhere to it and integrate it as a part of its own. In the short term, the implant must evolve from a discrete entity to an integrated cell niche that keeps its singularity but is connected to the rest of the organism.


That is a specialized capsule-host tissue integration. The rapid vascularization of the implant and, as a consequence, the easy and rapid access of the implanted cells to the bloodstream improve the cell survival and accelerate the kinetics of exchange of nutrients, glucose and insulin between the implant and the bloodstream.


12 partners, 8 countries

We are an international, multidisciplinary team of scientists from different fields ranging from synthetic biology to nanobiotechnology, molecular and cellular biology.

Our consortium gathers 12 Partners spread across 8 countries including Universities, SMEs and research institutes.

Our project is funded under the European Commission’s Framework Programme for Research, Innovation and Technology Horizon2020.

Since June 2015, we are  cooperating with a cross-disciplinary strategy and a unique objective: 
to develop a smarter strategy to cope with diabetes.

University of Valladolid
Valladolid, Spain
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel
Basel University
Basel, Switzerland
Promoscience srl
Trieste, Italy
Axiogenesis AG
Cologne, Germany
Uppsala University Hospital
Uppsala, Sweden
University of Miño
Braga, Portugal
Medical University of Vienna
Vienna, Austria
University of Perugia
Perugia, Italy
Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology SL
Valladolid, Spain
Asphalion SL
Barcelona, Spain
University of Aveiro
Aveiro, Portugal

Elastislet gazette

stay connected with us

What's new
Scientific progress
Designing a retrievable and scalable cell encapsulation device for potential treatment of type 1 diabetes
PNAS - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
January 04, 2018
Advances in polymeric islet cell encapsulation technologies to limit the foreign body response and provide immunoisolation
Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2017
August 30, 2017
Pancreatic Islet Transplantation Technologies: State of the Art of Micro- and Macro-Encapsulation
Current Transplantation Reports September 2017, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 169–183
June 02, 2017
Scientific progress
Immunological Challenges Facing Translation of Alginate Encapsulated Porcine Islet Xenotransplantation to Human Clinical Trials
Methods Mol Biol. 2017
November 14, 2016
Xeno-Transplantation of macro-encapsulated islets and Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Pancreatic Progenitors without Immunosuppression
Journal of Stem Cell and Transplantation Biology
September 21, 2016
Hybrid Polycaprolactone/Alginate Scaffolds Functionalized with VEGF to Promote de Novo Vessel Formation for the Transplantation of Islets of Langerhans
Advanced Healthcare Materials
July 06, 2016
Scientific progress
Mold-casted non-degradable, islet macro-encapsulating hydrogel devices for restoration of normoglycemia in diabetic mice
Biotechnol Bioeng. 2016 Nov
June 03, 2016
Coating Strategies Using Layer-by-layer Deposition for Cell Encapsulation
Chemistry- An Asian Journal
May 23, 2016

Press highlights

A selection of newspapers, websites and blogs that talk about us

Canal Diabetes
10 July, 2015
Elastislet un proyecto que mejora la vida de los diabéticos

04 August, 2015
ELASTISLET – eine neue Strategie gegen Diabetes

29 July, 2015
Eine neue Strategie im Kampf gegen Diabetes

Yahoo noticias
08 July, 2015
La UVA coordinará el proyecto europeo Elastislet para el desarrollo de microcápsulas como tratamiento de la diabetes

08 July, 2015
La UVA coordinará el proyecto europeo Elastislet para el desarrollo de microcápsulas como tratamiento de la diabetes

El Economista
08 July, 2015
La UVA coordinará el proyecto europeo Elastislet para el desarrollo de microcápsulas como tratamiento de la diabetes

08 July, 2015
Smarter strategies to cope with diabetes

30 September, 2015
Ue: progetto per trapianto isole pancreatiche biocompatibili

Notizie mediche
30 September, 2015
Diabete: allo studio il trapianto di isole pancreatiche biocompatibili

Contact Us

Universidad de Valladolid
scientific coordinator

Prof. José Carlos Rodríguez Cabello

how to reach us

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