Some insight into islet cell transplantation for individuals with type 1 diabetes

Many people with type 1 diabetes have heard the buzz about a relatively new kind of diabetes treatment called islet cell transplantation. Individuals who want to explore this type of procedure may want to develop a basic understanding of it before speaking with their healthcare providers.

A recent article published by TWEAN News Channel of Austin highlights the potential benefits, downsides and research associated with islet cell transplantation.

The news organization explains that this type of treatment is suitable for people with type 1 diabetes because in individuals with this form of the disease, the body's immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells. Therefore, by replacing the cells and taking immunosuppressive medications, some scientists say that they hope patients will be able to reduce the amount of insulin they take daily or eliminate the need for injections altogether.

During transplantation, islet cells are taken from an organ donor's pancreas and transferred to the individual with type 1 diabetes via a catheter. On average, a patient receives about 10,000 cells, which requires two donors, the news source notes.

TWEAN cites a recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Alberta, which found that 10 percent of 65 participants who underwent islet cell transplantation remained insulin independent five years after their surgery and many others reduced the number of injections they required daily.

Although about 7,000 people donate their organs in the U.S. annually, less than half of pancreases are acceptable sources of islet cells, which may limit the number of people with type 1 diabetes who can receive this treatment, the news station adds.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about one in every four American children and adolescents have diabetes, but proper diabetes management and insulin therapy can help these young people live long, healthy lives.