Within the framework of a European funded H2020 project, VANGUARD aims to develop a cure for type 1 diabetes available to a larger group of patients. The VANGUARD project will use advanced tissue engineering techniques to generate a bioartificial pancreas, with the aim to propose a novel cell-based treatment to type 1 diabetes that overcomes the limitations inherent to current therapies.
More than 40 million individuals worldwide are affected by type 1 diabetes, which is the most common chronic disease in children and adolescents. Today’s primary treatment for diabetes is insulin therapy, which requires multiple injections every day to control a person’s blood sugar levels. This can potentially lead to chronic complications such as kidney-related issues (nephropathy), visual impairments (retinopathy) and ischemic heart disease. Beta-cell replacement, done either by pancreas or islet transplantation, is a valid alternative to daily injections, as it restores the possibility to control blood sugar levels (glucose). However, pancreas or islet transplantations rely on organ donors and require lifelong anti-rejection medication to avoid the rejection of the transplanted organ or cells. The process is also associated with complications and is currently only offered to a limited number of patients with severe forms of the disease.
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