DELIVER and its Importance to Society
The DELIVER programme is a training network based on DELIVERy of advanced therapies for diabetes. Advanced therapies are new medicinal products based on genes or cells and tissue engineering products (biomaterials), sometimes used in combination with medical devices. They herald revolutionary treatments for a number of chronic diseases affecting society, including the focus of the DELIVER programme, Diabetes Mellitus. As the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes continues to rise around the world, so does the need for talented, innovative and entrepreneurial industrially-trained researchers. We aim to DELIVER the next cohort of translational research scientists in the field of advanced therapies and enabling medical devices for pancreatic islet transplantation, a cell therapy which is poised to become more widespread for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic disease characterised by high blood sugar due to problems with the hormone insulin. Insulin works to unlock all the cells of our body so that glucose from the food we eat can get inside and be converted into energy to power our muscles and organs. Diabetes affects 415 million people worldwide. There are two types of Diabetes- Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D). T1D is an autoimmune disease and is not currently preventable. In TID, the body’s own immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. Patients need to take insulin injections every day to survive as their body no longer produces insulin. Islet transplantation is a very promising therapy that has the potential advantage of re-establishing naturally-regulated insulin production. With this technique, pancreatic islets are harvested from donor pancreases and delivered to the liver by a catheter via the portal vein. There are however, many issues with this treatment; many islets are lost during and after transplantation due to lack of suitable support matrix, lack of an early oxygen supply and unfavourable inflammatory conditions. Furthermore, the patient must take lifelong immunosuppressive medications to prevent rejection, which have significant negative side effects, therefore islet transplant therapy is currently only approved for the most at risk “brittle” T1D patients. Therefore the main challenge for DELIVER is to improve insulin producing cell transplant therapy for T1D achieving sufficient delivery, retention and maintaining survival, engraftment and functioning of newly implanted islets. The objectives to overcome these challenges in DELIVER are 1) To develop technologies to overcome allo and auto rejection of transplanted pancreatic islets. 2)To provide newly intramuscularly transplanted islets with the nutritional supply that they need to survive as early as possible and 3) To develop biomaterial and medical device technologies for intramuscular islet transplantation. As a training programme the objectives also cover Researcher Training and Career Development, Communication, Dissemination and Exploitation and Management.
As the incidence of insulin-dependent diabetes continues to rise around the world, so does the need for talented, innovative and entrepreneurial industrially-trained researchers to translate advances in the field of pancreatic islet transplantation to the clinic. DELIVER aims to enhance the career perspectives and employability of researchers. DELIVER ESRs will possess the entire skillset to become leading innovators in islet transplantation, with the potential to make significant impacts on the health of European citizens.