The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its endocrine (i.e., hormone-producing) cells. Discovered in 1869 by German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1% to 2% of the mass of the pancreas. There are about one million islets distributed throughout the pancreas of a healthy adult human. Each is separated from the surrounding pancreatic tissue by a thin fibrous connective tissue capsule. The islets of Langerhans contain beta cells, which secrete insulin, and play a significant role in diabetes.
Islets are widely used for transplantation to restore beta cell function from diabetes, offering an alternative to a complete pancreas transplantation or an artificial pancreas. Because the beta cells in the islets of Langerhans are selectively destroyed by an autoimmune process in type 1 diabetes, islet transplantation is a means of restoring physiological beta cell function in patients with type 1 diabetes.
Human Islets for Research (HIR)® are primary human islets processed from organ donor pancreases that have been approved for research but not for clinical transplantation of either the pancreas or the isolated islets. HIR® are obtained in a proprietary process of pancreas digestion and islet purification that results in uniformly high quality HIR® for delivery to diabetes investigators. Quality Control (QC) testing is routinely performed prior to release to assure uniform quality and function of these islets available for research.