The shortage of pancreatic cells that create insulin (also called islets cells) for transplantation can be dealt with by obtaining islet cells from living donors, according to a study in Clinical Transplantation.
According to the researchers, 94 per cent of the cells taken from living donors were found to be viable for transplant during the study, compared to only 42 per cent of cells taken from deceased donors.
"Islet cell transplantation is the only known cure for insulin-dependent diabetes, but there are simply not enough deceased donors available to meet the demand for islet cells. In fact, we sometimes require islet cells from two deceased donors to gather enough cells to treat one patient," says study author Dr. Kwang-Won Kim, a professor with the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine at Sungkyunkwan University and Samsung Medical Center in Seoul, Korea.
The researcher believes that living donors can provide many more healthy cells, as islet cells begin to deteriorate immediately after brain death.
The report, however, says that obtaining islet cells from living donors is not a risk-free procedure. It states that donors may become susceptible to developing diabetes themselves.
"Obviously, more research is needed to determine the risk to donors and ensure their safety, but if a low-risk donation strategy could be established, living donors could dramatically improve the supply of islet cells for transplant," says Kim.