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What organizations are involved in the islet cell replacement research and is this the most promising program today to cure Type 1 diabetics?


Islet cell replacement research is going on in many Universities, mostly in the U.S.; but also in Canada, Australia, Britain and Sweden; and this is at both the applied level as well as in the basic science. You could get an idea of the distribution by going to your nearest medical library and looking up in a MEDLINE® search where most of the papers are coming from.

At the moment, intraportal autografts seem to work well in non-diabetic cases where the pancreas has to be removed for pancreatitis. The islets are separated out and returned. Attempts to treat Type 1 Diabetes with islet cell transplants have so far failed. Animal trials with encapsulated porcine xenografts avoid immunosuppression; but have a long way to go before the implants can be completely protected against the host's immune system and the graft coatings can be made more robust. Even then, successful transplants will not constitute a 'cure' as the disorder of the immune system will remain. Fortunately for the immediate future new substituted insulins, more sophisticated pumps and some promising new modulations of the immune system promise alternative routes to immaculate control.


Original posting 13 Oct 96


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