Two other research teams, one from Harvard University and one from Washington University in St. Louis, found similar results. All three papers are published in the March 24, 2006, issue of Science.
"Using a protocol that was identical to the original study, we were able essentially to cure 32 percent of treated mice, which was quite encouraging, even though it was less than the 67- to 92-percent cure rates previously reported," said transplant immunologist Anita Chong, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery at the University of Chicago and lead author of the study. "We saw no evidence, however, of spleen-derived beta cells in the pancreas, despite using very sensitive tests."
While the results provide a boost for efforts to reverse type-1 diabetes in recently diagnosed patients by manipulating the immune system, they come as a disappointment for those who hoped to cure established diabetes by using stem cells from donor spleens to help patients grow new pancreatic islets.
In type 1 diabetes, the body's immune cells mistakenly attack the insulin-producing beta cells found in the pancreatic islets. As the islets die, insulin production ceases and blood sugar levels rise, damaging organs throughout the body.
One of the most promising treatments is islet transplantation, in which islets are extracted from a donated pancreas and injected into the patient's liver, where they take up residence and begin making insulin, restoring control of blood sugar levels. Widesp
Contact: John Easton
University of Chicago Medical Center