Type 1 diabetes treatment could end need for insulin shots
Insulin shots could become a thing of the past for type 1 diabetes patients thanks to a technology being developed by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, a London-based not-for-profit organisation, and Aberdeen University.
The pre-clinical results have encouraged CGT and Aberdeen University to create a spin-out company, called Islexa. It will manufacture lab-grown islets, the organoids responsible for insulin production, by reprogramming donated pancreatic tissue.
Only 30-50 people with type 1 diabetes in the UK currently receive an islet transplant each year, owing to a lack of donors and the difficulty of extracting islets from pancreatic tissue.
Growing islets will “significantly increase the number of patients who can receive the treatment,” Keith Thompson, CGT’s chief executive, told the World Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine congress in London on Wednesday. He will run Islexa with Michael Bennet from CGT and Anne Lewendon from Aberdeen University.
If clinical trials are successful, the technology means tens of thousands more people could live without the need for frequent insulin injections, although it will take a few years until the treatment is available.
About 320,000 people in Britain have type 1 diabetes, a number set to more than double to 652,000 by 2035. Around the world, 21 million people have type 1 diabetes.
It is a lifelong condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, while type 2 diabetes – far more common, especially as obesity rises around the world – is a condition where the pancreas does not produce enough insulin o Continue reading