25 Years of DRWF Research
Islet Cell Research
In 2004, we made an unprecedented grant for an Islet Isolation Facility at the Nuffield Department of Surgery at the Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford. The DRWF Human Islet Isolation Facility opened in 2006 and has since played a pivotal role in Islet Cell Transplant research.
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.
For World Diabetes Day 2022, we produced a short documentary highlighting the success stories from DRWF-funded research and support. You can watch Our Heroes here.
Injections have been the standard practice of administering insulin for over 100 years, ever since the discovery of the life-saving drug in 1921. To the present day, millions of people living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes use daily injections of insulin to control their glucose levels.
Similar to glucose monitoring systems, insulin pens now incorporate modern technology to maximise their potential. Smart insulin pens, which have an inbuild memory function to record the timing, date and amount of insulin administered, work alongside smartphone apps to monitor when a user should inject insulin.
Whilst the quality of hypodermic needles, injectable insulin and delivery pens have gradually improved over time, the next biggest breakthrough for insulin delivery is a move away from daily injections.
The only other alternative delivery system, insulin pumps, have rapidly advanced since their introduction in the 1980’s. Over the past two decades, alongside the creation of CGM’s, the closed-loop system (also known as the “artificial pancreas”), is now offering a new alternative for people with diabetes.
The hybrid closed loop system consists of a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sending information to and working simultaneously with an insulin pump. After the CGM sends information on glucose levels to the insulin pump, a calculation is run to establish how much insulin needs to be administered to keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
The closed-loop system has been widely praised by researchers and recent draft guidelines have suggested that the new technology could benefit 105,000 people living with type 1 diabetes in the UK.