A news release from Penn Medicine on September 23 revealed that a study out of the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has shown that the latest approach to islet transplantation is producing positive results for patients with type 1 diabetes and has the potential to normalize insulin production.
Islet transplantation involves taking clusters of insulin-producing cells (known as islets) from a donor's pancreas and injecting them into another person's liver. The process is groundbreaking and could eventually offer an alternative treatment to pancreas transplants.
The study involved 12 adult patients suffering from severe hypoglycemia unawareness. The results from the study showed that the harvested cells resulted in increased levels of insulin production. The increase in insulin levels was so dramatic that the patients were able to discontinue daily insulin injections. Insulin is a life-sustaining hormone responsible for absorbing glucose in the blood and those suffering from diabetes aren't able to produce the normal amounts. Typically, patients suffering from type 1 diabetes must administer multiple injections of insulin per day, or receive continuous injections from a wearable pump.
Fluctuation in blood sugar levels, however, makes insulin therapy difficult to perfect and islet cell transplantations are offering an alternative approach. When successful, an islet transplantation is able to keep blood sugar levels in a normal range. This new approach has been called the CIT07 protocol and was sponsored by the Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium.