3D InSight™ Pancreatic Islet Microtissues

Bring reproducibility, reliability and more efficiency to diabetes research with standardized primary pancreatic islet models

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Five advantages standardized islets bring to diabetes research

Learn how InSphero 3D InSight™ Islet Microtissues overcome the most challenging hurdles of working with human pancreatic islets, including islet heterogeneity, manual hand-picking, limited in vitro longevity and function, and the resulting high data variability.  Request the White Paper:

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3D InSight™ Islet Microtissues: An advanced in vitro islet model for diabetes research


Better biology. Better functionality.




 3D InSight™ Islet Microtissues are standardized, biologically relevant in vitro pancreatic islet models for diabetes and safety testing, engineered to deliver:

  • More confidence – with standardized, homogeneous, quality controlled, islets that provide low intra-assay variability and eliminate the need to normalize data
  • More predictive power – with long-lived, functionally robust models displaying a larger GSIS assay window
  • More convenience – with assay-ready microtissues delivered in a user-friendly, automation compatible, 96-well plate format with no hand-picking required

The need for reliable in vitro islet models

Uniform islet microtissues compared to native primary pancreatic islets

Pancreatic β cells sense fluctuations in metabolic demand, particularly minute changes in circulating glucose levels. They then uniquely respond by secreting adequate amounts of insulin to regulate glucose homeostasis and metabolism. β cells cluster with β cells and other endocrine cells of the pancreas to form islets of Langerhans, the endocrine micro-organs of the pancreas. In pancreatic islets, several surface proteins mediate communication among β cells and their neighbors, and collectively assist β cells to optimize insulin gene expression and insulin content, as well as inhibit basal, and enhance stimulated insulin secretion. When cultured in conventional 2D platforms, the significantly reduced cell-cell contact disrupts this communication, and consequently β cells lose the ability to properly respond to changing concentrations of insulin secretagogues. Several studies indicate that while less characterized, cell contacts and paracrine signaling for normal functioning of pancreatic α cells is also important. This necessitates the use of isolated native islets as the go-to method for in vitro assessment of pancreatic islet function for efficacy and toxicity testing.

The drawbacks of hand-picking islets

The use of isolated primary pancreatic islets from human donors or rodent models is a common method for in vitro assessment of islet function for efficacy and toxicity testing. However, there are many drawbacks to their use, including the inherent heterogeneity in islet size and cellular composition, as well as their short in vitro lifespan.  To compensate for islet-to-islet variability, researchers have to pool islets with a labor-intensive hand-picking process, use multiple replicates for each data point, and normalize their data. 

The 3D Select™ Process: The key to islet standardization and superior biological relevance.

3D InSight™ Islet Microtissues eliminate the requirement for the resource-consuming tasks of islet picking and data normalization. Using our 3D Select™ Process, primary donor islet fractions are mildly dissociated into a single-cell suspension, then re-aggregated in hanging drop cultures. This eliminates contaminating exocrine material, allows precise control over islet microtissue size, and results in a more homogeneous distribution of α, β and δ cells from one microtissue to another. Depending on donor material, islets display glucose-inducible insulin secretion of 5- to 25-fold by GSIS, and are sensitive to positive (GLP-1) and negative (somatostatin) regulators of insulin secretion. Every lot of 3D InSight™ Islet Microtissues is quality controlled to ensure optimal viability, size distribution, and glucose responsiveness prior to shipping.


3D InSight™ Primary Pancreatic Islet Microtissue production process


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