Bernhard J. Hering, M.D., associate professor of surgery and researchers at the University of Minnesota's Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation has successfully reversed diabetes in monkeys using transplanted islet cells from pigs.
Suppression of graft rejection was possible with the use of novel immunosuppressive protocol. They have reversed the type 1 diabetes in humans through islet transplantation. But due to the non-availability of islet cells this mission was not possible to meet the demands. In order to make islet transplantation a viable solution for those who have type 1 diabetes the safe and reliable source of islet are those of the pigs.
This is made possible only after the identification of critical pathways involved in immune recognition and rejection of pig islet transplants. Now the researchers are working on better and safer immunosuppressant therapies to establish safer treatment options to people. The works of the researchers will be published in the medical journal, Nature Medicine.
If this research works then it would be possible to start clinical trials in humans in the next three years.
Spring Point Project, a non-profit corporation, has taken concrete steps to build and operate biosecure barrier facilities to raise high-health pigs for planned pig islet transplant trials in humans.
Now the goal is to have suitable donor pigs at the same time possess refined immunosuppressive treatment to a point that makes it safe for clinical trials to begin.
This would be very helpful for those with type 1 and possibly type 2 diabetes who suffer frequent acute and severe chronic complications. The procedure is done by isolating islet cells from the donor (pig) pancreas and transplanting them into the portal vein of the liver in people with diabetes. Then the transplanted islets will sense blood glucose levels and release the appropriate amount of insulin to control blood glucose in the body. After transplantation these patients do not require insulin injections.
Transplantation prevents or reduces debilitating secondary complications of diabetes, such as damage to the heart and blood vessels, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Hence in conclusion the researchers say that this would be a stepping stone in the new age treatment options available for diabetes in man.