Islexa is a new bio-tech start-up which will be developing laboratory grown islets cells the aim being to replace insulin production in people with Type 1 diabetes. Islexa is built on research from University of Aberdeen, which looked into re-programming normal pancreatic tissue into fully functional islets (the clusters of cells that produce insulin). Islexa’s laboratory grown islets are meant to bring islet transplants to more diabetes patients. While this procedure has shown efficacy, there is a shortage of suitable donor organs – and the extraction of islets is also complicated.
Islet transplants are particularly important for patients with hypo unawareness (few symptoms of a falling blood sugar level), approximately 10% of all T1Ds. Islet transplants are effective in the long-term, so patients should not need insulin injections. The creation of Islexa follows successful results in pre-clinical studies, which the new company will explore further. The next stage is to take the technology into clinical trials, which are expected in the next few years. Islexa is receiving support from Catapult, which helps cell therapies break into the market, and the University of Aberdeen. Other partners include the Scottish Islet Transplant Programme, the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS).
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