"This is a giant step for diabetes research, our transplant team, our patient, and all Type 1 diabetics," said Dr. Gores. "I can't tell you how exciting it is to be a part of ground-breaking research that could one day change the quality of millions of lives."
Dr. Gores stresses that this procedure, while successful in this case, and an important step in the research that will eventually result in a cure for all insulin-dependent diabetics, is not a cure for everyone. Only a few medical centers in the world ten in the United States are currently offering this procedure, which is experimental and done as clinical research.
"A significant challenge remains the scarcity of organ donors," explained Dr. Gores. Also because patients must take immunosuppressive drugs to protect the transplanted tissue from being rejected, the procedure is only for a select group of patients with Type I diabetes. Immunosuppressive drugs have several potentially serious side effects and until a method is discovered that protects the islets and is free of dangerous side effects, the procedure will not be appropriate for the vast majority of diabetic patients.
Islets are cell clusters in the pancreas that determine the body's need, and release the necessary amount of insulin to maintain normal blood sugar levels in the body. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce that insulin, forcing patients to inject insulin every day. Type 1 diabetes carries with it increased risks of kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease, and blindness.
"Daily insulin shots have been a part of my life for years," relates patient Andrea "Annie" Ande
Contact: Raymond C. Jones
Carolinas HealthCare System