NCRR Information Officer
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:
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.