Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

TRANSDIA: Brookes researchers working at the forefront of international diabetes research

Thursday, 03 November 2016

Test tubes

Oxford Brookes University is a key collaborator in an international project known as TRANSDIA to tackle type 1 diabetes and benefit the increasing numbers of diabetic patients world-wide.

It has been estimated that over 700 people are diagnosed with diabetes every single day in the UK. Diabetes is a serious lifelong health condition affecting more than 415 million people worldwide. There is currently no known cure. Oxford Brookes University is a key collaborator in an international project known as TRANSDIA to tackle type 1 diabetes and benefit the increasing numbers of diabetic patients world-wide.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a debilitating, lifelong condition which causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are two main types, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The former occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin, while the latter occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin.

Type 1 diabetes has been estimated to affect more than 35 million patients worldwide and is now the most frequent metabolic disorder affecting infants in Mexico. It can develop at any age, but usually appears before the age of 40, and especially in childhood. This disorder is thought to be caused by auto-immune destruction of the pancreatic islet cells that make insulin. Pancreas or pancreatic islet transplantation can reverse the diabetes soon after diagnosis, and annul the need for insulin to maintain a normal glucose concentration in the blood. This is the only option for those patients who do not respond to insulin treatment. Currently, Mexico does not have an islet transplant programme.

“I was delighted to be able to visit Mexico City to take part in a symposium to launch this exciting international collaboration. The provision of quality human islets will also give us opportunities to increase research and innovation capacities in both the UK and Mexico to help overcome current challenges and improve transplantation success in the future.”

Professor Linda King, Oxford Brookes’ Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships

Oxford Brookes University is a key collaborator in an international project known as TRANSDIA, which aims to establish an islet transplant programme in Mexico and to improve the programme’s success in Mexico and the UK. This type of transplantation can reverse diabetes in selected adults, thus providing a dramatic improvement in their quality of life. In the long term, this innovative pre-clinical research project aims to evaluate the role of gene therapy in improving the outcome of islet transplantation by reducing immune responses. It will also investigate the use of co-culture with stem cells to increase the number of insulin-secreting cells within the islets. Advances made will benefit the increasing numbers of type 1 diabetes patients in Mexico, the UK and world-wide.

This collaboration involves Oxford Expression Technologies Ltd, Oxford Brookes University, the Centre for Molecular and Cell-based Therapeutics, the Oxford Islet Facility Consortium, TEC de Monterrey and the Organ Donor Network of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Mexico City. This project is one of four founded by the Newton Fund, which is part of the UK’s aim to help with science and innovation partnerships in targeted developing countries. Professor Linda King, Oxford Brookes’ Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Global Partnerships and lead for this project at Oxford Brookes, visited Mexico in October 2016 to meet with the partners and be part of the official launch of TRANSDIA.

For more information, please visit the official TRANSDIA website http://transdia.net