Physicians and engineers from Germany, Britain, and the United States announced the first successful pancreatic islet transplant that avoided the complications of rejection and the need for drug therapy to provide long-term immunosuppression in the Oct. 28, 2013, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The device is a plastic module that houses the pancreatic islets in two chambers with a middle chamber that supplies oxygen to the pancreatic islet cells. The module is prepared prior to insertion into the patient and can be stored successfully for long periods of time.
The device was tested on a 63-year-old male patient with type 1 diabetes who was completely insulin deficient. The trial period lasted 10 months. The patient did not display any signs of rejection.
The external device functioned just like pancreatic islet cells in a normal pancreas. Measurements of the production of C-peptide, an indicator of how much insulin is produced, indicated the pancreatic islet cells in the device functioned like normal pancreatic islet cells in the body.
The researchers indicate that this methodology may be the means to overcome the lack of donors, the high rejection rate of internal pancreatic cell and pancreas transplants, and the need to continue long-term immunosuppression therapy after a pancreas transplant to prevent rejection.
The development is seen as a practical cure for diabetes.