Can transplanting pancreatic islet cells eliminate the need for patients with type 1 diabetes to take insulin shots? In a briefing held at the Ameri-can Transplant Congress in June, James Shapiro, MD, lead researcher of the study sponsored by Canada?s University of Alberta, announced that of the 36 patients in the study, 12 no longer need insulin. The study will report final results after all participants have had the chance to respond to up to 3 transplants, probably in 2004.
The procedure involves an infusing of islet cells via the main liver vein. After a 2-day hospital stay, patients are put on a regimen of immune-suppressing drugs. Most of the side effects of the procedure have come from the drugs, Dr. Shapiro reported.Yet, by all accounts the study?s results are very promising.