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Multimillion-dollar grant for diabetes research at Uppsala

Pressmeddelande   •   Sep 10, 2008 08:52 CEST

In stiff international competition, Uppsala University´s research on type 1 diabetes has won a multimillion-dollar grant from the American Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The team will be one of three groups in the world selected to establish a transplant center.

Diabetes research at Uppsala University has been strong for many years. Professor Olle Korsgren´s team has previously been awarded several major research grants, some from the U.S., and is a world leader in transplanting insulin-producing islets from the pancreas. They have managed to develop a highly successful method by combining preclinical and clinical studies.

This time the support involves major long-term funding to build up one of three transplant centers in the world, and the competition has been extremely keen. The grant comprises $1.2 million per year for five years.

- This is a fantastic opportunity we have been given. I think we won the grant because we have leading research throughout the chain: experimental preclinical studies can quickly lead to clinical studies and then be assessed with extremely advanced image analysis, says Olle Korsgren, the director of the project.

This unique constellation consists of medical cell biology at the Biomedical Center, materials chemistry at the Ångström Laboratory, clinical immunology and radiology at Akademiska University Hospital, and the Nordic network for clinical islet transplants (www.nordicislets.org). The Uppsala researchers will also be using a unique method in which the cell islets are not transplanted via the major vein between the intestine and the liver but are placed directly in muscle tissue instead. With the help of image analysis, they monitor how the islets adapt to their new environment and how blood vessels grow. The have preliminary results that are very promising.

Highly advanced new equipment to further sharpen the resolution of the magnetic camera in image analysis will now be purchased, and several key individuals will be newly recruited. There is a tremendous amount of interest from other world-leading teams, so this research will be further strengthened.

- This type of grant has many spin-off effects. The project aims to improve the treatment of the most severely affected patients, but it also looks to the future. We are establishing new technologies that can be used in other applications and pave the way for future treatments with stem cells, says Olle Korsgren.

The other two centers will be in Miami, Florida, in the U.S., and Edmonton, Alberta, in Canada.

Caption: Cross-section of a muscle in the forearm of a 66-year-old patient three months following the transplanting of islets of Langerhans (Dr. Johan Permert, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge). The arrows show a cross-section of the islets in the muscle. The technology for producing the image was developed by the MR section, Radiology Unit, Akademiska University Hospital, Uppsala.

For more information, please contact Project Coordinator Annakarin Lidehäll at phone: +46 (0)18-611 41 85; cell phone: +46 (0)70-425 08 18 or at annakarin.lidehall@klinimm.uu.se for interviews with representatives from the team´s various areas of expertise.