Islet Transplant Laboratory

Islet cell transplant is an innovative therapy that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of type 1 diabetes. We have demonstrated that a life without insulin injections is possible, and the procedure is a significant first step toward improving the quality of life of patients living with type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Steven Paraskevas

Director of Pancreas and Islet Transplant Program, MUHC

The Challenge

Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing diagnosis. The illness cannot be prevented and living with the disease can be a constant battle as it requires lifelong monitoring of blood sugar along with daily insulin injections, making regular day-to-day tasks such as planning a meal or even doing basic exercise a challenge. If left untreated, type 1 diabetes can cause serious complications including blindness, stroke, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.

With the complications of type 1 diabetes continuing to plague more and more Canadians and rising costs related to properly monitoring the illness, there is now an even greater need to provide better access to new and innovative treatments that will improve the personal management of type 1 diabetes and help to reduce the possibility of complications and the burden on our healthcare system.

The Solution

muhc-foundation-dr-steven-paraskevas-islet-transplant-lab-200x300The MUHC’s Islet Transplant Laboratory has been working to improve the quality of life of patients living with type 1 diabetes and it specializes in the research and transplant of islet cells, a cutting-edge procedure that restores the body’s ability to produce its own insulin. Developed as an alternative to a pancreas transplant, which carries significant risks and often involves extended time in the Intensive Care Unit, islet transplant begins with islet cells being separated and isolated from a donor pancreas, a procedure that requires years of investment in technology and medical expertise. Once isolated, the islets can then be infused into a patient’s liver through a small catheter in the abdomen, without the need for surgery. This minimally invasive procedure has greatly improved the patient experience as there is less risk of infection and an improved recovery time.

The MUHC has been developing the expertise to conduct this procedure for the past decade, and it is the only centre in eastern Canada and one of only a dozen in North America capable of isolating and transplanting human islet cells. The MUHC conducted the first islet cell transplant in Quebec and in order to remain at the forefront of islet transplant, it must:

  • Conduct research that will refine the islet cell transplant procedure so it becomes a viable treatment for more patients suffering from type 1 diabetes in Canada
  • Purchase the latest medical equipment to improve the transplant procedure by maximizing the amount of islet cells that can be isolated and infused thereby increasing success rates
  • Recruit the best talent to ensure that patients are benefitting from the latest islet transplant research and treatment right here at home
  • Improve patient outcomes by providing a safer and non-invasive procedure that decreases hospital stays and reduces risk
  • Establish an islet cell network so other healthcare facilities can perform islet cell transplant, increasing the number of patients who could benefit from the procedure

How you can help

We are raising $1 million to support the needs of the MUHC’s Islet Transplant Laboratory.

You can donate online, download our donation form or call us at 514-843-1543.

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