From Sonora, Mexico:
Recently, I read an article about a group at Illinois University (Chicago) that made a small pump with a cell inside which produces insulin. Those cells take the nutrients from the body to keep producing insulin, and as long as the body produces glucose, the pump will produce insulin. Do you have more information about how promising this is?
At present, the two main goals for researchers in type 1A (autoimmune) diabetes are either to be able to prevent insulin dependence in those who are at risk or else to find a way to replace the destroyed insulin producing cells. Considerable progress has recently been made with transplanting human islet cells, but two major problems remain. The first is that the supply of donor tissue is extremely limited, and the second is that a successful transplant recipient is still committed to a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs.
I suspect that what you heard about was a report at a recent meeting in Chicago, not of a mechanical artificial pancreas, but of the first successful remission of type 1 diabetes after the implantation of artificially encapsulated pig islet cells. This was a simple procedure that overcame both of the above difficulties. So far though, the experience is unique, and it promises to be some time before success can be assured. In the meantime, the NIH has established an Islet Cell Consortium to explore the possibilities of using other surrogate insulin producing cells and trials are just about to begin of the use of a brief course of specific monoclonal antibodies to induce lifetime graft tolerance.
Original posting 12 Nov 2001
Posted to Research: Cure
Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:28
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