A state-of-the-art Human Islet Isolation Facility was officially opened in Oxford today, making it the leading centre in the UK and one of the very best in Europe.
One of the major challenges facing the new facility will be improving the extraction of the insulin-producing islet cells from donor pancreases.
Another crucial aspect of the research will be investigating and developing new ways to prevent donated islets from being rejected.
Currently, people who have had islet cell transplants must take a cocktail of anti-rejection drugs. These drugs can have major side effects.
The new facility is housed in the Oxford Centre for Diabetes, Endocrinoligy and Metabolism (OCDEM) at the Churchill Hospital, part of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital group.
Dr Angela Wilson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK said, "Diabetes UK is tremendously excited by the opening of this new facility. We are committed to getting islet cell transplants available on the NHS as a treatment for people with diabetes, and are funding the first ten human transplants in the UK.
"Major limiting factors for islet cell transplants are the number of available donor pancreases and the poor survival of extracted cells. This dedicated centre offers the potential to progress important research in the area and will improve opportunities in making the treatment available to more people.”