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Pancreatic cell transplant progress in mice

Researchers from New York's Yeshiva University have announced they have developed a technique for transplanting insulin-producing pancreatic cells (known as islet cells) that causes only a minimal immune response in mice recipients.

At present, cell transplantation therapy is limited because of a lack of donors, and as transplant recipients are forced to take powerful immunosuppressant drugs that have toxic side effects and raise the risk of infection.

Transplants using this method "a long way off"

Experts said the gene therapy study showed "proof of concept" but that transplants using this method remain a long way off.

Experimental therapy

Islet cell transplantation remains an experimental therapy and is not yet well advanced enough to guarantee complete insulin independence and freedom from diabetes.

This means the procedure is currently only suitable for those people who have extreme problems controlling their diabetes, experience countless hypos with little or no warning, which can be life threatening, and as a consequence have drastically reduced quality of life.

Diabetes UK's view

Dr Iain Frame, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, reiterated that the results should be treated as a "proof of concept" rather than a breakthrough.

"The effect on the blood glucose levels of the mice was transient and, as admitted by the lead researcher, the transplanted cells were soon rejected," Dr Frame continued.

"To say that the results of this study move us closer to a cure for Type 1 diabetes would unnecessarily raise the expectations of people with the condition."

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