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2nd November 2023 Latest News

Research capability expands thanks to generous Lions Clubs

Lions resized 2

Adelaide’s state-of-the-art Biospherix Chamber has added another key component, thanks to the generosity of South Australian service clubs. 

Seventeen Lions Clubs spanning from Mount Gambier to Edwardstown, as well as donations from the public, have raised an incredible $28,000 for the Chamber, administered through Kidney, Transplant and Diabetes Research Australia (KTDRA). 

The selfless donation has allowed the team at the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Clinical and Experimental Transplantation (CCET) to add another feather in their cap through the purchase of a Cell Purification Islet Isolator. 

Associate Professor Chris Drogemuller, Principal Medical Scientist in the CCET, said the equipment would ultimately help people living with type 1 diabetes and pancreatitis. 

“When you talk to the community about type 1 diabetes or hereditary pancreatitis and the impacts both diseases can have on families, especially as both diseases occur in young children, it is very easy to explain the impact islet transplants can have,” he said.  

“We have a very engaged patient group who have undergone the procedure and when you hear their stories it is impossible not to feel the pain, suffering and struggles they have endured.  

“Without the generous donations from the community through the Lions Clubs, and also through KTDRA and The Hospital Research Foundation, it would not be possible for us to provide these life changing treatments and we are always forever grateful for their support.” 

Islet cells play an important role in both type 1 diabetes and pancreatitis, as they are housed in the pancreas and responsible for producing insulin. 

Treating pancreatitis, now possible in Adelaide thanks to the Biospherix Chamber, involves separating the healthy islets from the diseased organ and inserting them into the patient’s liver. 

While islet isolation is possible in the chamber, A/Prof Drogemuller said the next step is to purify the tissue to boost the volume of cells that are extracted. 

He said this will allow the team to expand and build on their research into hereditary pancreatitis and type 1 diabetes. 

“When we isolate islets from deceased ‘healthy’ organ donors, the volume of tissue after digestion of the pancreas can be 50 to 100mls and the islets will make up only 5% of the volume,” A/Prof Drogemuller said.  

“So, in order to support research into islets, hereditary pancreatitis and type 1 diabetes, or if the isolated islets were to be transplanted into to a type 1 diabetic, the digested tissue would require purification.  

“This will often produce a highly pure fraction of islet tissue 1-2mls which can be up to 95% pure islets.”