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Spring Point Project

New Facility Promises to Resolve Shortage of Islet Cells for Diabetes Transplantation

Washington, DC; Minneapolis, MN - January 24, 2007

State-of-the-art facility opens to produce biosecure islet cells for transplantation into diabetes sufferers.

For the first time, diabetes patients have new hope for an unlimited supply of insulin-producing islet cells that can be transplanted with minimally invasive surgery.

The 21,000 square-foot facility in Western Wisconsin is being built with a $6.2 million grant from Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation® (DRWF), a Washington, DC- based not-for-profit, worldwide network dedicated to finding and funding the cure for diabetes.

W. Michael Gretschel, volunteer president of DRWF, noted this to be the first important step to implementing the possibility of widely available transplants. "The Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation, Islet Resource Facility building will house clean pigs that will be raised in a biosecure atmosphere, with the intention that porcine islets will be declared an FDA approved standard treatment for diabetes," says Gretschel.

“The world has waited too long for such a facility,” says Dr. Bernard Hering. Hering is the inspiration for the effort, known as the Spring Point Project, and is a world renowned diabetes researcher and Scientific Director of the University of Minnesota, Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation.

"We decided to move ahead as a non-profit in order to avoid anything that might slow us down. Our goal is to be in human trials within three years and approved by the FDA soon after," said Tom Cartier, president of Spring Point Project. DRWF was among the first to come on board, along with several families impacted by diabetes like Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Ryan of the Ryan Companies of Minneapolis.

Dr. Hering’s research has a long track record of success and is clearly at the forefront in the fields of islet cell transplantation. In March of 2006, the prestigious journal Nature Medicine published unprecedented findings of Drs. Hering and Henk-Jan Schuurman’s work proving diabetic monkeys were cured of diabetes with porcine islet transplants. This success, one step from humans, was proof of the concept for pig islet transplantation.

The Hutterite Brethren, a religious farming community in South Dakota, are volunteering their expertise with the overseeing and care of the animals. Geneticist Dr. Scott Fahrenkrug, of the University of Minnesota and Spring Point, is overseeing the breeding of the animals for safety and high islet production.

This facility will be in full operation by the end of February 2007, and marks a major milestone in the race to cure diabetes. "We will provide the world new hope for transplants that will relieve patients from the day-to-day burdens of insulin administration and threats of high and low blood sugars that cause deadly complications—from blindness to heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure," says Gretschel.

On behalf of President George Bush, to recognize the significance of this milestone in the battle against diabetes and participate in the dedication, will be Melissa Johnson, Executive Director of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


For more information about the Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation Islet Resource Facility please call Mike Gretschel @ 202-298-9211.

Bernhard Hering, MD, Professor of Surgery, Eunice L. Dwan Diabetes Research Chair, is the Director, Islet Transplantation, and Scientific Director, Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation, and Scientific Director for the Spring Point Project.

Spring Point Project: The mission of the Spring Point Project is to expedite the widespread availability of islet tissue for diabetes care by developing premier source pigs for islet xenotransplantation. www.springpointproject.org

Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation (DIIT) is world-renowned as a pioneer of organ transplantation. The mission of DIIT is pioneering cellular therapeutics to cure diabetes. Since 1994 DIIT has capitalized upon its historic strengths in pancreas transplantation by pursuing a cure for diabetes. www.diabetesinstitute.org

Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation® (DRWF) has funded more than $25 million towards the diabetes research for the cure. DRWF has committed $6 million to Dr. Hering’s research through our network offices in United States, United Kingdom and France. The foundation is the publisher of Diabetes Wellness News, a monthly newsletter read by over 25,000 diabetic consumers nationwide, and Diabetes Weight Loss System & Diabetes Danger books. www.diabeteswellness.net

Watch the video from FoxNews in Minneapolis on the Grand Opening of the DRWF Islet Resource Facility.


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