NUI Galway to lead €6m EU research project to treat diabetes

20 Nov 2012

A new €6m EU-funded project that’s being led by NUI Galway is aiming to find out whether stem cells can safely control blood glucose levels and tackle six different types of complications linked to diabetes.

Prof Timothy O’Brien, who is the director of the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway, will co-ordinate the project, which will also involve Orbsen Therapeutics, a spin-out from the university.

Orbsen, which spun out from research at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded REMEDI, has recently developed and is patenting a method of isolating therapeutic stem cells from human tissue.

Clinical trials will take place in Ireland and Denmark using stem cells discovered by Orbsen.

The project will be aiming to find out whether the stem cells can control blood glucose levels and treat diabetes complications, such as bone damage, ulcers and eye and kidney damage.

“At the moment, there are very few treatment options available to control the initiation and progression of these complications,” said O’Brien. “In addition, there are no treatments which will improve glucose levels and simultaneously treat the diabetic complication,” he said.

The €6m EU-funded Reddstar (Repair of Diabetic Damage by Stromal Cell Administration) project will take place over two phases over three years. The first will examine which diabetic complication responds best to stem cell treatment in various models of diabetes. The second phase will involve a clinical trial at the Steno Diabetes Centre in Denmark in collaboration with clinicians at the Diabetes Centre in Galway University Hospitals.

As well as this, nine new research jobs are to be created in Ireland by the project. Three of these positions will be within REMEDI at NUI Galway, while five positions will be created at Orbsen Therapeutics.

In all, the project will bring together 10 expert teams from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal and the US.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic