RT-PCR For Assessing Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) in Porcine Islets

Dr. Gina Rayat

Gina RayatIslet transplantation can offer individuals with Type 1 diabetes a much better control of their blood glucose and possible freedom from exogenous insulin injections.  Islets derived from human (cadaver) donors have been used in islet replacement therapy for over 10 years, while islets from non-human (pig) donors is currently being investigated as an alternative therapy.  We are working towards clinical application of pig islets for human transplants by developing an extremely sensitive method to determine the presence of pig endogenous retrovirus using real-time-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).  This method can detect minute amounts of endogenous retroviral DNA in the pig islets and will allow us to evaluate their safety in preparation for their transplantation into individuals with Type 1 diabetes.