This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 874839 ISLET.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 874839 ISLET.


ISLET is spearheaded by a unique scientific team that share an ambitious common goal: to pioneer a new advanced cell therapy for Type 1 Diabetes. Our team combines the wealth of expertise, facilities and knowledge of seven institutions to allow key findings to be translated into a therapy. As a team ISLET has a unique power to improve the lives of people living with diabetes, not just through therapy, but through advanced public engagement and communication. Meet our people and explore our goal.

Our mission

First generation

People living with Type 1 Diabetes need to take insulin daily to manage their blood glucose (sugar) levels. They do this using either injections or an insulin pump.


However, it can be difficult to achieve a well balanced management of blood glucose levels using current methods. Mismanagement of blood glucose levels puts people at risk of hypoglycemia and long-term health complications.


Scientists and health-care practitioners believe cell therapies could be a more sustainable solution for people living with diabetes. Cell therapies replace the damaged beta cells in people living with Type 1 Diabetes, removing the need for patients to manage their own insulin levels. 


ISLET aims to deliver a first generation cell-therapy product consisting of insulin-producing beta cells, made from stem cells in the lab. We can already generate these cells in the lab. Our next step is to pioneer a manufacturing pipeline to produce these beta cells at clinical grade, ready to use in phase 1 clinical trials by 2025.

Next generation

All diabetes focused cell-therapy products in development aim to reproduce the function of islets in a person’s body. Islets are the clusters of cells found within the pancreas that mainly contain insulin-producing beta cells and glucagon-producing alpha cells.


For some people affected by Diabetes Type 1 the disease progresses to a life threatening condition. A handful of these people will be offered a ‘scarce’ treatment – the transplantation of human islet cells from deceased donors. The glucose levels and metabolic function seen in a person after transplant, is far superior to those using insulin injections or pumps (the current therapy that replaces beta cell function alone). Therefore, our scientists think that it is only by combining alpha and beta cells in one product will a cell-therapy effectively mimic a normal islet’s function.


To make headway with this next generation therapy, ISLET aims to engineer islet-like clusters, containing beta and alpha cells from stem cells in the lab. We will create ways of scaling up their production, ready for clinical grade manufacture by 2025. 

to patients


Transforming a scientific discovery to a working therapy is a complex process and steps need to be taken to ensure it is scalable, safe and effective. Our unique team has experts for every step. By combining the brightest ideas, state of the art resources and facilities we have the power to pioneer advanced cell therapies.


To bring our stem cell therapy for Type 1 Diabetes closer to reality, we will develop a pipeline with the following steps: a manufacturing process compliant with Good Manufacturing Procedures (GMP)*; pre-clinical product testing and product commercialisation.


We will also bring innovative solutions to a common challenge in stem cell therapy – evaluating the standard of the cell product. Our team will work to identify a unique combination of protein and genetic markers present only in islet cells. These markers will serve as a ‘gold standard’ signature to identify the best performing islet cells during manufacturing. As a result we will ensure that only effective islet cells will be supplied for use as a therapeutic product.


Through transparent communication and effective public engagement we will ensure that our framework for success is accessible to all. This legacy, we believe, will be invaluable for any scientific team embarking on the generation of an advanced cell therapy for disease.


*GMP – A code of standards concerning the manufacture, processing, packing, release and holding of a medicine that ensures the product is of high quality and fit for medical use. Find out more

and Collaboration

Those affected by diabetes provide a unique expertise and perspective to translational research; an insight into living with and managing a disease. We believe that it is only by scientists, clinicians and those living with diabetes working together, that the best therapies can be created. By collaborating with the diabetes community we aim to bring the voice of those living with Diabetes to the work of ISLET.


Advanced therapies are changing the landscape of future healthcare which will affect everyone. We think that advanced therapies will be more impactful if we engage the public in its development. Engagement can be in many forms, from listening to what people think of the science, providing accessible information to collaborating with stakeholders to improve approaches.


That is why we are committed to a transparent, ambitious, enabling and exciting programme of public engagement and communication. This way we are all part of mapping our futures.


Our team

ISLET is a collaboration of 11 European partners across 7 organisations. We bring together expertise in stem cell biology, lipidomics, proteomics, islet biology, computational biology, GMP manufacturing and clinical islet transplantation. In addition, the team is experienced in regulatory frameworks for ATMP production and commercialisation, inter-woven with the expertise of those with direct experience, living with diabetes.

The immensely talented pan-European team highlights the strength in collaboration between institutions. It is only by working together transparently in this way that we can fulfil the promise that stem cell technology offers to human health globally.


Meet the partners:

A multi-institutional collaboration of expertise

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