The results of a clinical study out of Northwestern University are promising to stop all of that. Transplanting islet cells - insulin producing cells - prevent dangerous blood sugar drops in patients. The cells from a deceased donor are placed into the portal vein of the recipient through a small catheter. The results are not immediate, and the clinical patients still needed to continue insulin therapy until the cells start producing insulin. Some participants needed more than one transplant to have the desired affects. At the end of the year, 88% of the participants had near-normal glucose levels and experienced no severe hypoglycemic events. 52% of the participants were able to completely stop insulin therapy.
One concern is the amount of immunosuppressant drugs patients will need to take to avoid rejecting the donor cells. In some, these drugs can cause side effects so this treatment is the best option for patients who are already on these drugs due to kidney transplant or have significant hypoglycemia issues. However, this ground-breaking human study has given hope that advances and research are moving towards a cure.
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Mary A. Goehring
Transcription Plus, LLC
Whiteman, H. (2016, April 19). Pancreatic cell transplantation: a breakthrough for type 1 diabetes?. In Medical News Today