NIH News Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Center for Research Resources

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Contact:
Kathy Kaplan
NCRR Information Officer
(301) 435-0888

New Resources to Treat Type 1 Diabetes

Bethesda, Md. — The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today the award of grants in the amount of $10.4 million to establish 10 Islet Cell Resource (ICR) centers.* These centers will be responsible for the isolation, purification, and characterization of human pancreatic islets for use in transplantation research in patients with type I diabetes.

Approximately one million Americans have type I diabetes and face increased risk of nerve damage and heart, kidney, and eye disease if their blood sugar is inadequately controlled. Although the causes are not entirely known, researchers believe the body's own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, called islets. However, recent studies have reported success with islet transplantation, which has allowed patients with type 1 diabetes to stop their daily insulin injections.

To capitalize on this progress in wider-scale studies across the country, and to bring such therapies into practice, interested institutions were invited to submit applications to establish the centers in January 2001. NCRR and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International will jointly fund the ICRs. In addition, a portion of the award includes funds provided to the Department of Health and Human Services for research into the prevention and cure of type 1 diabetes.

"The establishment of these centers takes us one step closer to making islet cell transplants a viable option for those who suffer from type I diabetes," said Dr. Judith Vaitukaitis, NCRR Director. "Through this collaborative effort, the resource centers bring together the unique research expertise and experience that will allow the scientific community to perfect techniques related to islet cell isolation and availability."

The centers will be responsible for procuring whole pancreata and acquiring relevant data about the donors; islet isolation techniques and preparation methods; and for distribution of islets for approved research and clinical studies. They also seek to improve cellular viability and function, as well as islet shipping procedures.

*The Islet Cell Resources will be located at:
City of Hope National Medical Center
and Beckman Research Institute (Duarte, CA)
Contact: Taylor Mayo, 1-800-888-5323
University of Miami (FL)
Contact: Dr. Mitra Zehtab, 305-243-3899
Columbia University, College of
Physicians and Surgeons, (New York, NY)
Contact: Dr. Eric Liu, 212-305-6039
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis)
Contact: Dr. Bernhard Hering, 612-626-5735
Joslin Diabetes Center (Boston, MA)
Contact: Marjorie Dwyer, 617-732-2415
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia)
Contact: Dr. Ali Naji, 215-662-2066
Puget Sound Blood Center (Seattle,WA)
Contact: Dr. Paul Robertson, 206-726-1210
University of Tennessee, (Memphis)
Contact: Dr. Tarik Kizilisik, 901-448-7819
University of Colorado Health Science Center
(Denver) Contact: Dr. Ronald G. Gill, 303-315-6390
Washington University (St. Louis, MO)
Contact: Joni Westerhouse, 314-286-0120

NCRR is the nation's leading Federal sponsor of resources that enable advances in many areas of biomedical research. NCRR support provides the scientific research community with access to a diverse array of biomedical research technologies, instrumentation, specialized basic and clinical research facilities, animal models (mammalian and nonmammalian), genetic stocks, and such biomaterials as cell lines, tissues, and organs.

The National Center for Research Resources is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.