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March 10, 2005

UK Achieves Diabetes Cure with Islet Cell Transplant

Topics: Medicine

Patients with Type 1 diabetes receive islet cells from a donated pancreas in what are called allogeneic transplants.

The successful transplantation of islet cells in a Type 1 diabetes patient at  King's College Hospital in London is being hailed as a medical breakthrough that has major implications for diabetes sufferers and cell research.

Historically, islet transplants have been only partially successful. They have reduced the amount of insulin required, but the need for regular injections still remained. The first reports of insulin independence came recently from a program in Canada.

The King's program is the first to report a comparable result for the UK. This patient has proved that it is possible for islet transplants to lead to freedom from administered insulin and diabetes-treatment associated problems, says King's.

Islet cells are found in the pancreas and produce insulin. Type 1 diabetes often starts in childhood and has been considered irreversible. It occurs as a result of the islet cells being destroyed. Usually, the destruction of these cells is the result of an autoimmune process in which the body fails to recognize the cells as its own, resulting in total insulin deficiency.

Using state-of-the-art technology, doctors extract the islet cells from a pancreas, purify them and inject them into the patient's liver, where they can thrive. The goal is to have the cells produce enough insulin to control blood glucose levels without insulin injections.

Prior to the islet cell transplant breakthrough, the only treatment for Type 1 diabetes was insulin injections.

In the United States, several Islet cell transplants have been conducted at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Hat tip - Hidden Nook

Posted by Hyscience at March 10, 2005 8:39 PM

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