Glucose-responsive insulin secreting BRIN-BD11 cell line (U281)

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Scientists at Ulster University in Northern Ireland have developed a number of rodent insulin-secreting human pancreatic β-cell lines. The cells are available for licence as highly functional research tools such as for diabetes drug development and disease modeling research.

Problem Being Solved

Studies using freshly isolated islet cells or islet cells maintained in tissue culture have often been hindered by a number of factors including difficulties in preparing large amounts of viable islets, cellular and hormonal heterogeneity within the islets, and finally the rapid decline of insulin production in tissue culture.

Although insulinoma-derived cell lines have served as useful cellular models for insulin secretion, possessing many aspects of ?-cell function and having the advantage of unlimited growth in tissue culture, many exhibit vast differences in their insulin-secretory responses to glucose when compared to normal islets.

These continued shortfalls highlight the importance of adopting new approaches and generating an insulin secreting cell line that is glucose responsive as well as stable and immortal in tissue culture, providing for an optimized means of studying ?-cell function in health and disease.


Using cell fusion technology, Researchers at the University of Ulster have developed a clonal pancreatic Beta-cell line, known as BRIN-BD11 that is stable and glucose-responsive.

Ulster’s BRIN-BD11 cells possess a fully functional glucose-sensing mechanism and have been shown to exhibit appropriate secretory function and immortality providing for an optimized experimental model for the study of the physiology and patho-physiology of the pancreatic Beta-cell.

BRIN-BD11 is a hybrid cell line formed by the electrofusion of a primary culture of NEDH rat pancreatic islets with RINm5F (a cell line derived from a NEDH rat insulinoma).

The cells grow as monolayers with an epitheliod morphology, and when confluent they take on a pavemental pattern characteristic of epithelial cells.

Unlike tumoral cells, they spread and grow evenly in tissue culture.

Ulster’s BRIN-BD11 cells are available for a non-exclusive license.


  • Cells have retained key attributes of the normal pancreatic ?-cell for glucose responsiveness, insulin synthesis and secretion.
  • 2- to 3-fold observed increase in insulin release in response to glucose and four-fold increase in response to a variety of modulators (ie. KCl, Ca2+, L-alanine etc.)
  • Cells are immortal and provide for unlimited and stable growth and function up to passage 50.
  • High capacity for glucose sensing, specificity, transport and metabolism.
  • Exhibit appropriate responses to a range of non-glucose nutrient fuels and receptor-mediated modulators of ?-cell function, including amino acids, neurotransmitters and sulphonylurea drugs with preliminary studies suggesting:
  • Amino acids may act on BRIN-BD11 cells by diverse mechanisms including metabolism to ATP and uptake of cationic amino acids.
  • The cell line is suitable for nutrient interaction studies involving the regulation of insulin secretion by sulphonylureas and other drugs.
  • The cell line can be used in studies assessing the regulation of intracellular events by ?2-adrenoreceptor agonists such as epinephrine and norepinephrine.

 McClenaghan NH, Flatt PR 1999 Engineer- ing cultured insulin-secreting pancreatic -cell lines. J Mol Med. 77(1):235-43 PMID: 9930971.

 McClenaghan NH, Barnett CR, Ah-Sing E, Abdel-Wahab YH, O’Harte FP, Yoon TW, Swanston-Flatt SK, Flatt PR. 1996 Character- ization of a novel glucose-responsive insulin-secreting cell line, BRIN-BD11, produced by electrofusion Diabetes. 45(8):1132-40.


Opportunity/Partnership Sought

Ulster University’s rodent insulin secreting Beta-cell lines are currently deposited with Public Health England (PHE) who act as the University’s distributer to the research community.  All orders and sales are processed directly through PHE.

Cell lines for commercial use are available under a fee bearing non-exclusive license. The inventors of this technology are able to provide valuable know-how to assist in its successful commercialisation.

Please contact:

Dr Oonagh Lynch

Technology Commercialisation Executive

Research & Impact

Tel: +44 (0) 28 9036 6707

Mob: +44 (0) 77 6536 3191