Type 1 diabetes cure following transplant

A type 1 diabetes sufferer has been cured following a pioneering donor transplant of insulin-producing cells from the her mother.

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By  Stuart Qualtrough Published  April 19, 2005

A type 1 diabetes sufferer has been cured following a donor transplant of insulin-producing cells from her mother. The world first is seen as a breakthrough in the fight against the growing global threat of diabetes. Doctors have described the mother and daughter as fit and well three months after the pioneering operation at Japan's Kyoto University Hospital. It is the first time an islet cell transplant from a living donor has worked. Islet cells have previously been taken from dead donors, but the cells were often damaged, hampering the chances of success. Dr Shinichi Matsumoto and colleagues said islets from living donors have the advantage of being more viable and more likely to function properly. Also, there are many more potential donors than with islet cells from the deceased. Two or more whole pancreases from dead donors are needed for an islet transplantation, compared to just half of a living pancreas, experts have found. Two previous attempts at transplantation from living donors have been carried out in the US, but were unsuccessful. Taking donor cells from a close relation reduces the risk of rejection of the transplanted cells by the recipient. However, the woman still has to take powerful drugs to stop her rejecting the new cells, said her doctors. In diabetes, blood sugar is too high because the body cannot use it properly. This is because the hormone insulin, which enables the body to control blood sugar levels, is either not produced by islet cells in the pancreas or does not work properly. The 27-year-old woman who received the living donor islet cells from her 56-year-old mother was able to stop using insulin 22 days after the transplant and has continued to be independent of insulin for the past two months. This is the first time in 12 years that she has not needed daily insulin injections and her doctors believe the transplant could last up to five years. However specialists have pointed out that the mother who had donated a section of her pancreas to her daughter had, in turn, put herself at increased risk of diabetes.

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