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From Italy:

A 13 year-old girl who lived in my town and has had diabetes since age nine, has recently had a pancreatic islet cell transplant from a living donor at the Siberian State Medical University. She does not require immunosuppression drugs, and the physician stated he had a new therapy.

She was the first girl in Italy to receive the operation, and I saw the Siberian doctor's clinical paper after the operation. He didn't give hope to permanently resolve definitively the problem and only mentioned the fact that she is not taking immunosuppression drugs is an important advance.

Have you heard this doctor? I know about islet transplantation research, so I don't want to create false hope to other parents.


I have not heard of this study, but I would have to say that I think that ultimate success is exceedingly improbable. Many years ago, islet cell transplants were attempted in this country between identical twins, but they were uniformly unsuccessful. Even if the Italian girl had a form of diabetes that was not due to autoimmunity, there would still be the normal process of foreign tissue rejection.


Additional comments from Dr. Camillo Ricordi:

An islet transplant from a living donor? We have only one pancreas so I assume they took half pancreas like they used to do in pancreas transplantation, before demonstrating that without half pancreas the donor would develop diabetes as well. I hope it is indeed a breakthrough new therapy, otherwise it will be something to be ashamed of.

It is difficult to comment without knowing any of the details about this new therapy, but based on the message, we will either read about soon in Science or this doctor will join the ranks of "magic potion" and smoke sellers.


Original posting 30 Jul 2002
Posted to Transplants


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