Pancreatic Islet Transplantation

Pancreatic Islet Transplantation for the Treatment of Diabetes

Approximately 2-3% of the Irish population suffer from diabetes. Type I diabetes (Insulin-dependent diabetes Mellitus, IDDM) is caused by insulin deficiency resulting from autoimmune destruction of the B-cells of the islets of Langerhans in the pancreas. A relatively new treatment for this type of diabetes is to replace the insulin producing islet cells by transplantation. Islet transplant programmes have been successfully established in a number of centres worldwide but no such islet isolation facility has previously been established in Ireland.

Collaboration with Irish Hospitals

In collaboration with Pancreatic transplant surgeons in St. Vincent’s Hospital  and Diabetes specialists in Beaumont hospital (Dr. Diarmuid Smith) and Blanchardstown Hospital (Dr. Seamus Sreenan) we are currently undertaking basic laboratory process optimization which could lead to development of a National Islet Cell Transplantation Programme. The team at NICB will be responsible for isolation and purification of the islets from a donor pancreas. The current status of the programme is optimisation of this highly specialised procedure at NICB. Once a reliable isolation procedure has been established, and regulatory approval obtained, islets can be transferred into the portal vein of the patient, where they can begin to produce insulin. This treatment should allow more sensitive insulin secretion in response to glucose levels than insulin injections for diabetic patients with poor glycemic control. Isolated islets not used for transplantation will be used for research projects in the area of diabetes in NICB. These projects include protein, mRNA and microRNA profiling of islets as well as investigations into glucose responsiveness and culture conditions to enhance our understanding of the disease and ultimately improve patient treatment.

Collaboration with the University of Oxford

We are building an important partnership with Professor Paul Johnson's team at the University of Oxford to bring the treatment to Irish Patients without delay.


Laura Breen (

Clair Gallagher (

Click here to meet our Stem Cells & Differentiation research group, and here to meet our Diabetes research group


  • Rani S, Clynes M, O'Driscoll L. (2007) Detection of amplifiable mRNA extracellular to insulin-producing cells: potential for predicting beta cell mass and function. Clinical Chemistry, 2007 Nov;53(11):1936-44. Epub 2007 Aug 23.
  • O'Driscoll L, Gammell P, Clynes M. (2004) Mechanisms associated with loss of glucose responsiveness in beta cells. Trasplantation Proceedings, 2004 May;36(4):1159-62.



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