6. Pancreatic cells implanted in the gut could cure diabetes
Pancreatic islet cells implanted in abdominal tissues have shown promising results in curing Type 1 diabetes and restoring natural insulin production, according to researchers at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Islet cells are endocrine cells that secrete insulin and glucagon. The Miami researchers say they’ve produced the first clinical trial results showing that islet cells implanted in abdominal tissues can produce long-term insulin independence in Type 1 diabetes patients.
The researchers used a combination of donor islets and a patient’s own blood plasma and layered that onto a patient’s omentum, the abdominal tissues, through a laparoscopic incision. A medical-grade thrombin gets layered over the islet and plasma mixture to create a gel-like material that the body will eventually absorb, leaving the islets intact. The method is supposed to eliminate inflammation that comes with the traditional method of implanting cells onto the liver.
“The results thus far have shown that the omentum appears to be a viable site for islet implantation using this new platform technique,” Dr.David Baidal, the lead author of the study and member of DRI’s Clinical Cell Transplant team, in a DRI news release. “Data from our study and long-term follow-up of additional omental islet transplants will determine the safety and feasibility of this strategy of islet transplantation, but we are quite excited about what we are seeing now.”