New science centre in UK working towards a cure for all diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on May 15, 2017

Work to find new treatments and even a cure for type 1 diabetes has taken a step forward with the creation of a pioneering diabetes research centre in the UK which will focus on islet cell transplantation.

The Newcastle Isolation and Innovation Hub is based at Newcastle University and the team there will be testing new drugs for people with type 1 diabetes and carrying out islet cell transplant therapy with the aim of ultimately finding a cure for all diabetes.

(DragosCondrea/Bigstock.com)

James Shaw, professor of regenerative medicine for diabetes at Newcastle University and honorary consultant physician at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who is leading the Hub, said he hopes that the research which is being carried out will one day mean that eventually insulin won’t be required for any type of diabetes.

‘Our first goal is to pioneer islet cell transplant therapy for diabetes delivering long term freedom from insulin injections without the need for toxic anti-rejection drugs. In parallel, the Hub will provide scientists with human islet cells to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of diabetes on the pancreas with the aim of finding curative new drug treatments,’ he explained.

Tissue and high quality islet cells from donated pancreases will be generated from donor organs within the Hub for researchers of the Regenerative Medicine for Diabetes group at Newcastle University.

Engineers and molecular biologists will collaborate with other experts with the aim of making cell transplantation a safe, routine procedure for people with type diabetes at highest risk of complications.

Islet cell transplantation involves taking cells from a donated pancreas and transplanting them into the patient and the recipient must then take anti-rejection drugs.

‘The overarching goal is to develop new tablet treatments which will enable cells in the pancreas to start making insulin again. We aim to provide a unique bank of pancreas tissue and cells obtained from people with diabetes,’ said Shaw.

‘Our research and clinical practice has been building towards this service for the last 15 years which will benefit scientists working towards a cure throughout the UK and the rest of the world,’ he added.

A core team of three researchers will work at the Hub and collaborate with bioengineers internationally to design new state of the art equipment for islet cell transplantation.

‘We will now have access to the highest quality human cells and will be able to put these to excellent use to help push research into type 1 diabetes forwards,’ said Helen Gavillet, research technician at Newcastle Isolation and Innovation Hub.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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