UK-based cell and gene therapy industry Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT), along with the University of Aberdeen, has announced the establishment of new company Islexa.

Islexa is set-up to develop the latest technology that can produce laboratory grown islets, organoids responsible for the production of insulin.

The new technology can facilitate islet transplant to several patients suffering from type I diabetes.

The Islexa technology works by operating donated pancreatic tissue into fully functional islets that will help increase the number of patients receiving the treatment.

University of Aberdeen professor Kevin Docherty said: "The technology is based on converting pancreatic tissue into functional islets.

"This has an advantage over the use of stem cells as source material, since at the moment they generate only the insulin-producing beta cells. Islets are organoids that produce multiple hormones, including insulin, and donated islets are already effectively treating severe cases of type 1 diabetes.

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"Having a hugely expanded supply of lab grown islets will enable us to significantly extend this established clinical treatment."

The transplant can provide patients with effective and long-term glucose control without the need of any insulin administration.

"This is a really exciting technology that has the potential to bring life changing benefits to these diabetic patients."

Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult CEO and Islexa director Keith Thompson said: "This is a really exciting technology that has the potential to bring life changing benefits to these diabetic patients.

"We are delighted to be forming Islexa with the partners we’ve worked with so far on this project. The collaboration has already delivered promising results and the formation of Islexa will accelerate the development of these lab grown islets and ultimately get this potential treatment to thousands of patients."

The new technology has been developed at the University of Aberdeen as part of activities led by a consortium with the assistance of CGT.

The consortium includes the University of Aberdeen, University of Edinburgh, the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS) and the Scottish Islet Transplant Programme.

Image: Insulin and glucagon cells. Photo: courtesy of Catapult.