According to an article published in Orlando Sentinel, patients suffering from Type-1 Diabetes have a chance to get off insulin when administered Islet Cell Transplant. Islet Cells are the cells in the pancreas that are responsible for secreting Insulin. Lori Martin, a 49 year old mother from Orlando is one of the less than 1000 people worldwide who have received pancreatic islet cell transplant (an experimental cure for diabetes) and is now off insulin.
Lori received the transplant as part of a Islet Cell Transplant for Diabetes clinical trial that is underway at Diabetes Research Institute, a branch of the University of Miami under the direction of Dr. Camillo Ricordi, who is the chairperson of the National Institute of Health’s Clinical Islet Transplant consortium that includes members in North America and Europe.
About Islet Cell Transplant
Pancreatic islet cell transplant was first performed in 1990. In this transplant, the fragile Insulin producing islet cells are harvested from a deceased donor’s pancreas and transfused into the liver of the recipient. This is a less than two hours process in which patient is given only local anesthesia and a light sedative. The islet cells are transfused into liver because the pancreas is very sensitive. The liver is larger, more approachable, is a huge filter and has a good blood supply which makes it a more appropriate organ for transfusion of donor’s cells.
Pancreatic Transplant Versus Islet Cell Transplants
Pancreas is an organ which is about the size of the palm. It houses the islet cells, some of which are responsible for producing insulin. In patients with type-1 diabetes the immune system damages islet cells so they stop making insulin. Surgeons perform a complete pancreatic transplant instead of only islet cell transplant for patients suffering from severe type-1 diabetes. Pancreatic transplants are clinically approved while the islet cell transplants are still experimental. Cell transplants are safer than organ transplants but the success rate of organ transplant is much higher.
Lori Martin’s Transplant Story and Post Transplant Life
After the islet transplant surgery, the patients start making their own insulin and do not need to inject it. As a result their blood sugar level evens out and they are no longer at the risk of hypoglycemia, or at greater risk of other complications like kidney diseases, heart diseases and nerve, eye or limb damage. The downsides of the transplant are the anti-rejection medicines which a patient has to take for rest of the life. The drug not only prevents the body from fighting against foreign cells but also decreases body’s ability to fight diseases like cancer and foreign infections.
Weighing upon this study, Dr. Rastellini says that the risk of transplant is worth taking for people who cannot live with the disease, because it is better to take immunosuppressant drugs.
- List of Clinical Trials for Type I Diabetes (aka Juvenile Diabetes, Insulin Dependent Diabetes)
- A ‘Nasal Insulin Spray As Type 1 Diabetes Vaccine Possible’: Lenn Harrison, Spiros Fourlanos and Peter Coleman, Australian Researchers
- Ultra Long Acting Insulin, Degludec Reduces Risk Of Hypoglycemia in Diabetes Patients: Phase III Trial Results
- Stem Cell Transplant Clinical Trials
- Good luck Pat! Today is day 1 of his Stem Cell Transplant