DRIVE aims to improve pancreatic islet transplant therapy for diabetes mellitus, a chronic disease characterised by high blood sugar due to a shortage of insulin. Transplant of insulin-producing pancreatic islets restores tight natural control of blood sugar, eliminating the need for multiple daily injections of insulin, that ultimately affect patient’s quality of life.
Despite its proven effectiveness among current treatments for diabetes, this therapy, which involves infusing purified human pancreatic islets from donor pancreases into the patient’s liver, suffers from poor survival and engraftment of transplanted islets in the hostile liver environment. As a result, multiple donor pancreases are necessary for a successful islet transplant, which limits the use of this therapy to a small percentage of “brittle” type 1 patients for whom daily insulin injections are not sufficient to control their diabetes.
Thanks to the combined use of an injectable gel (“β-Gel”) acting as a protective matrix for the islets and of an innovative drug delivery system (“β-Shell”) for tuneable and localised release of immunosuppressive/anti-inflammatory drugs, DRIVE aims to dramatically improve the survival and engraftment rate of transplanted islets, thereby widening the application of islet transplant therapy to more insulin-dependent diabetes patients (T1D and T2D).