Study could aid transplants for diabetics

Diabetic patients could benefit from a breakthrough that enables scientists to take cells from the pancreas and change their function to produce insulin. The research could reduce waiting times for patients with Type 1 Diabetes who need islet cell transplants.
These transplants are carried out to prevent life-threatening complications resulting from diabetes, such as seizures resulting from low blood sugar levels.
Islet cells – which occur naturally in the pancreas – produce insulin, which enables the body to store glucose. However, not enough of these cells can be provided by a single donor for a successful islet transplant to take place. This means that patients can wait months before a second pancreas becomes available so that a sufficient number of islet cells to be transplanted.
The breakthrough could enable pancreatic cells – other than islets – to be developed in the laboratory for transplant operations. The study was carried out by the University of Aberdeen, the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service.
It could mean that only one pancreas donation would be needed to enable the successful transplantation of insulin-producing cells.
This would save months waiting for a second donor to become available as well as make more organs available for other patients
It would involve an islet cell transplant once an organ becomes available, followed by a second transplant soon after when enough pancreatic cells have been developed to produce insulin.
The effects of the operations would also be longer lasting than currently as more cells would be transplanted. University of Edinburgh