Islet Cell Transplant
People develop type 1 diabetes because they are unable to produce the hormone insulin. Insulin is made by cells called Langerhans - or 'islets'. Islet cells produce insulin when blood glucose levels in the body are high, bringing them down again and stop producing insulin when the blood glucose levels are low.
Islet cell transplantation involves extracting islet cells from the pancreas of a deceased donor and implanting them in the liver of someone with type 1 diabetes. First, islets are extracted from someone who has died and given consent for their organs to be used for transplantation. If this produces a suitable number of good quality islets, they can be offered to someone in need of a transplant.
‘Islet Cell Transplants – What you need to know’ is a patient document written by experts from within the UK Islet Transplant Consortium and made available as part of a national awareness campaign.
4.9 million people are currently diagnosed with diabetes in the UK
The number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years
537 million people are affected by diabetes around the world
Professor Johnson is the Director of the Islet Transplant Programme at Oxford, one of the leading clinical and research centres for over 30 years. He has always felt that it is vital to underpin the clinical service with a strong and innovative research programme.
His particular clinical interests are paediatric and endocrine surgery, and cell transplantation. His research interests include optimising human islet isolation, and understanding normal pancreatic development and islet neogenesis. Professor Johnson was awarded a Hunterian Professorship from the Royal College of Surgeons of England for this research in 1998, and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of The American Academy of Paediatrics in February 2010.
For World Diabetes Day in 2022, Professor Johnson told DRWF: "Over the last few years, insulin technology has advanced incredibly, but ultimately, technology still only controls diabetes rather than reverses it, and there will always be a cohort for whom islet transplantation is the treatment of choice. This cohort will increase significantly once we are able to transplant islets without the need for life-long immunosuppression (anti-rejection drugs)."
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How We Can Help at DRWF
Each year we run events for people living with diabetes, ranging from educational workshops and wellness events, to fundraising marathons and group skydives. To find out more about our events and how we support people living with diabetes, please visit our Events Page.
Since 1998 we have provided over £12 million of funding for medical research programmes, with the aim of finding a cure for all types of diabetes. In 2004, we made a significant commitment to Islet Cell Research and Transplant, a programme which focuses on the role of islet cells in diabetes. Read more about our commitment to research by visiting our Research Page.
We rely on our amazing donors who raise the funds that help support people living with diabetes across the UK, as well as funding our vital research programmes. There are lots of ways to raise money to support people living with all forms of diabetes, there’s something for everyone! To discover more about fundraising with us, please visit our Fundraising Page.