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Focus on islet cell research at this year’s DRWF-supported IPITA 2017 meeting

Focus on islet cell research at this year’s DRWF-supported IPITA 2017 meeting

Clinicians and scientists from around the world, specialising in islet cell research will meet in Oxford this June when the annual IPITA congress will be held in the UK for the first time.

Published: Feb 22, 2017
Category: Healthcare Professionals

The IPITA (the International Pancreas And Islet Transplant Association) 16th International Congress takes place from 20-23 June.

DRWF is supporting the event, as it has done over the last 10 years, in line with the charity’s commitment to islet cell research and transplants in the UK and around the world.

Professor Paul Johnson

Professor Paul Johnson, Director of the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility at Oxford and Chair of the Local Organising Committee, IPITA 2017, said: “The UK has a strong track record in the fields of whole pancreas and islet transplantation and has been instrumental in a number of key developments including being one of the first countries in the world to have a nationally commissioned clinical islet transplant programme, as well as establishing the first joint whole organ and islet donor pancreas allocation scheme.”

The scientific programme for the event will cover all aspects of whole pancreas and islet transplantation (both research and clinical practice), with a specific focus on developing increased collaboration between the whole pancreas and islet transplant communities with the aim of moving towards an integrated, patient-centred approach to beta-cell replacement.

The event will provide the next generation of clinicians and scientists working in the field of beta-cell replacement with a forum to explore the full range of novel ‘state of the art’ technologies relevant to beta-cell replacement.

Islet cell transplantation involves taking islets from the pancreas of a deceased organ donor. The islets are then extracted and purified, and implanted into the liver of someone with type 1 diabetes. Once implanted, the islets become lodged in the structure of the liver and begin to make and release insulin in response to increased blood sugar levels. The main indication for this treatment is for people with type 1 diabetes who have lost the warning signs of dangerously low blood sugars (hypoglycaemia unawareness).

Islet cell transplantation and whole organ pancreas transplantation are considered treatment options for when these more straightforward measures have failed or are unsuitable. It is also available for people who still experience difficulty controlling type 1 diabetes after a kidney transplant.

Islet cell transplants thanks to research funded by DRWF can change the lives of people with type 1 diabetes

DRWF has been funding the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford for many years. This facility, one of the leading islet isolation laboratories in Europe, provides human islets, not only for clinical transplantation, but also for a broad range of world-leading diabetes related research projects that require human islets.

Islet cell transplantation is approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the NHS has funded the clinical element of islet cell transplants as a recognised treatment option for a selection of people with type 1 diabetes since 2008. The UK was the first country in the world where this procedure was recognised as a proven treatment for life threatening hypoglycaemia.

DRWF Chief Executive Sarah Tutton said: “DRWF has been funding islet cell research since 2004, with the award of an unprecedented grant of £1.2 million to the Nuffield Department of Surgery in Oxford to establish an islet isolation facility. There have been significant advances in the development, refinement and offering of this treatment over many years in the UK and whilst there are still many questions yet to be answered about how to improve the results of islet cell transplants in order to make them more effective, these questions are being addressed by research teams around the world.

“Whilst the aim of a transplant is to restore hypo awareness, some transplant recipients also achieve insulin independence for sustained periods of time. We have an ongoing commitment to support islet cell research and transplant in the UK and around the world in the hope that the limiting factors to its availability can be overcome and as many people as possible can benefit.”

Whilst islet cell transplants are limited in availability for a number of reasons, one of the main restrictions is the availability of suitable pancreas donations. With this in mind, DRWF, along with sister organisations in the US, Sweden and Finland, are supporting the work of Professor Bernhard Hering at the Schultz Diabetes Institute in Minneapolis who is working in partnership with the Spring Point Project to seek an alternative, sustainable source of islet cells suitable for human transplant.

Find out more about DRWF-funded research here

Read more about IPITA 2017

Read the DRWF booklet Islet cell transplant – what you need to know


Category: Healthcare Professionals

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