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Islet Cell Transplants

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.

DRWF has made a significant commitment to Islet Cell Research and Transplant both in the UK and around the world.

In 2004, we made an unprecedented grant to the Nuffield Department of Surgery at the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, for the provision of a Human Islet Isolation Facility.

The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility was launched in 2006 at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford. Housed within the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM), this facility harvests insulin producing islet cells from donor pancreas for research and transplant. It plays a pivotal role in the supply of islets within the UK Islet Transplant Consortium (UKITC) for the delivery of an NHS funded national therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Although only a small number of people can currently benefit from an islet cell transplant, it is our hope that research will continue to refine and improve current processes to enable it to become more widely available as a treatment option in future years.

‘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.

 

International Congress of The International Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (IPITA)

Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation (DRWF) was the Diamond Sponsor of the 16th International Congress of The International Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (IPITA), held from 20th to 23rd June 2017 in Oxford.

"ADVANCING ISLET AND PANCREAS TRANSPLANTATION ACROSS THE WORLD"

IPITA aims to serve the pancreas and islet transplant scientific community in providing a forum for the open exchange of knowledge and expertise in order to facilitate the advancement of the clinical practice of pancreas and islet transplantation for the treatment of human 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

Paul Johnson - Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism (OCDEM)

Professor Johnson is the Director of the Islet Transplant Programme.

Oxford has been one of the leading clinical and research centres for over 30 years and has always felt that it is vital to underpin the clinical service with a strong and innovative research programme.

In 2004, DRWF made an unprecedented grant to the Nuffield Department of Surgery at the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, for the provision of a Human Islet Isolation Facility.

The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility was launched in 2006 at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford. Housed within OCDEM, this facility harvests insulin producing islet cells from donor pancreas for research and transplant. It plays a pivotal role in the supply of islets within the UK Islet Transplant Consortium (UKITC) for the delivery of an NHS funded national therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Rae-Marie Lawson – Trustee DRWF

Retired Psychotherapist Rae-Marie was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes more than 30 years ago and experienced a debilitating lack of hypo awareness which impacted on all aspects of her life. She received two islet cell transplants at the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism (OCDEM) which houses the DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility in 2010 and has been insulin injection free since then.

Professor Bernhard Hering - Schulze Diabetes Institute in Minneapolis

Internationally renowned for his expertise in islet cell transplantation Professor Hering’s research focuses on finding innovative cell-based therapies to restore blood glucose control and insulin independence for people with type 1 diabetes. Additionally, he is committed to exploring new sources of islet cells through xenotransplantation.

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 working in partnership with the Spring Point Project to seek an alternative, sustainable source of islet cells suitable for human transplant.

Tom Spizzo - Director of Operations Spring Point Project

Tom oversees the complex operational needs of Spring Point Project, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., the project is working to provide an unlimited source of pig islet cells to accelerate the availability and affordability of islet transplantation to cure diabetes. Spring Point Project and the Schulze Diabetes Institute of the University of Minnesota work in partnership to provide the source and science needed to move toward a cure for diabetes.