There's encouraging news for sufferers of type one diabetes. Researchers say a new cell transplant procedure, also in clinical trials, may some day eliminate the need for daily insulin shots, by transplanting islet or insulin producing cells-from a donated pancreas into the patient's liver. The cells can regenerate and manufacture a steady supply of insulin. Doctors need only make a small incision to allow for the transplant.
"Having a cell or hundreds of thousands of cells producing insulin, in a minute-by-minute fashion, allows you to control metabolism, and glucose levels much better than through insulin injections," says Camillo Ricordi M.D. at the American Diabetes Institute.
There is however a risk of rejection, and coincidentally, that's what researchers at Texas Tech are studying. Dr. Jeanette Dufour in the department of cell biology tells me they are trying a similar transplant in rodents, but at tech, they're specifically looking at ways to protect the body against rejection. So, not only would insulin shots be required every day, but hopefully, someday, there would be no need for anti-rejection therapy either. Of course, it will take years before either treatment is available, but at least we can see there is promising news on the horizon in the fight against diabetes.