Innovative surgery helps patients with pancreatitis

Ontario patients with chronic pancreatitis can now access a new surgical treatment that can dramatically improve their quality of life. The Ajmera Transplant Centre at University Health Network (UHN) is the first in the province, and one of few centres in the world, to offer this procedure, allowing great relief for people suffering with this condition. Two patients have successfully undergone the surgery called “total pancreatectomy and islet auto transplantation” (TPIAT) at Toronto General Hospital. The procedure consists of removing the patient’s pancreas, isolating the insulin-producing islet cells from the diseased pancreas, and then re-implanting them in the patient’s liver.

After removing the pancreas in the Toronto General’s operating rooms, the medical team takes the organ into the Centre for Cell and Vector Production (CCVP), a highly-specialized facility built in partnership with CCRM, and designed to be compliant with Health Canada-mandated Good Manufacturing Practices to produce cell products for clinical purposes. It is located in the neighbouring MaRS building.

“When we partnered with CCRM to launch the Centre for Cell and Vector Production (CCVP), the first facility of its kind in Toronto, we were filling a gap in Toronto to produce clinical-grade cells and viral vectors for clinical trials,” says Dr. Brad Wouters, Executive Vice President, Science and Research at UHN. “Our investment in this strong local ecosystem and our approach to team science have enabled the development of this innovative new therapy, to the benefit of Ontarians with pancreatitis.”

In a CCVP clean room, the islet cells are isolated, purified and concentrated by validated and approved protocols, which prevent any contamination. The cells then return to the OR to be implanted into the patient’s liver.

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