A recent study done by the University of Minnesota reports that transplanted pig cells have been successful in reversing diabetes in test monkeys. The islet cells, which are the cells that produce insulin, were transplanted from pigs to monkeys and their diabetes was successfully reversed. This is exciting news for the many diabetes patients around the world. In fact, successful transplants of islet cells have successfully reversed Type 1 diabetes in humans.
The problem will be demand for cells is greater than the supply. For the thousands of diabetics with hard to manage diabetes, a safe and reliable source of islet cells must be found. Pig cells used in transplantation will require drugs to control rejection of the cells. Transplants of human islet cells have already occurred but normally only when a kidney transplant is being performed at the same time.
Human Cell Alternative
Pig cells may be an alternative to human cells, especially since significant strides have been made in recognizing why the transplanted cells are rejected. Now work can begin on better therapies and ways to suppress the rejection. Once safer and more effective ways of suppressing the transplant rejection system, thousands of diabetics will benefit from this new diabetes treatment.
Research is continuing and if it they continue to produce good results, clinical trials on humans could take place within the next few years. Biosecure buildings are now being built to raise healthy pigs for future transplants of pig islet cells to humans. These facilities will be required to meet government controls and the hope is the facilities will be complete when new drugs are developed to keep the body from rejecting the cells.
The results of these studies are encouraging and will meet a need in thousands of people with Type 1 and possibly Type 2 diabetes. Chronic complications can be reduced by transplanting the islet cells into the portal vein of the liver in a diabetic.
If this method proves to be successful, the newly transplanted islet cells will sense the glucose levels in the blood on a minute-to-minute basis and will release the right amount of insulin needed to control glucose levels. If transplants are successful, insulin will no longer need to be injected in patients who have received these transplants.
The transplant of these islet cells will reduce the risk of the severe complications that often go with uncontrolled diabetes. Damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, blood vessels and nerves can be controlled and the risk of death significantly reduced.
The prospect of cell transplants that will reverse diabetes is a welcome word to thousands of diabetics throughout the world. Until that day comes, people with a predisposed nature for developing diabetes will need to take care of their health. The need to exercise, eat healthy, and take care of the body is still there. I hope that in the next few years, the possibility of a cure for diabetes will become reality. Until then, exercise, reduce the sugar and sweets in your diet, and take care of your body.