Freedom from insulin

Freedom from insulin

New stem cell research centre helps further a medical breakthrough in diabetes treatment
July 16, 2013

University of Alberta researchers will soon begin clinical trials for a treatment that, if successful, would eliminate the need for patients with Type 1 diabetes to get insulin shots. Lead by world-renowned researcher Gregory Korbutt, the team has developed a method to isolate insulin-producing cells from neonatal pigs and has transplanted them in pre-clinical animal models. More than two million Canadians live with diabetes, and many rely on regular insulin injections to stabilize the disease. Korbutt’s research group hopes that injections of insulin-producing cells will someday eliminate that need.

To begin clinical trials, which will be the first of their kind in North America, Korbutt and his team have secured $26 million to build the first Western Canadian facility for stem cell research. Once it is open in 2014, the Cell and Tissue Innovation Research Centre (CTIRC), partially funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, will be a state-of-the-art facility that produces live cells and tissues for new regenerative medicine treatments.

The CTIRC will provide core facilities to isolate and store umbilical cord blood cells and bone-marrow-derived stem cells as well as infrastructure to conduct research for lung repair, skin regeneration, cardiac repair and cartilage regeneration. It will be the only place in Western Canada to produce cells and tissues for clinical transplantation. The CTIRC will play a vital role in transitioning basic research to a clinical setting and will provide a much-needed technology platform in Alberta to increase support for cell- and tissue-based clinical trials in Canada.