-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. scientists who
successfully transplanted insulin-producing islet cells from rats
to mice say it is the first step toward animal-to-human transplant
of islet cells for people with type 1 diabetes.
The researchers at Northwestern Medicine in Illinois developed a
method that prevented the mice from rejecting the rats' islet cells
without the use of drugs to suppress their immune system.
The study was published online July 12 in the journal
"This is the first time that an interspecies transplant of islet cells has been achieved for an indefinite period of time without the use of immunosuppressive drugs. It's a big step forward," co-senior study author Stephen Miller, a research professor of microbiology and immunology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a Northwestern news release.
Their ultimate goal is to be able to transplant pig islets into
humans, said the other co-senior author, Dr. Xunrong Luo. "But we
have to take baby steps," said Luo, medical director of the human
islet cell transplantation program at Northwestern Memorial. "Pig
islets produce insulin that controls blood sugar in humans."
People with type 1 diabetes don't produce insulin. A transplant
of insulin-producing islets from a deceased donor can help control
type 1 diabetes, but there is a severe shortage of islet cells from
deceased donors. Many patients on waiting lists don't receive the
transplant or suffer heart, nerve, eye and kidney damage while they
Using islets from another species would enable more people to
receive transplants. However, concerns about controlling rejection
of transplants from a different species have made that approach
seem impossible until now.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
type 1 diabetes.
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