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More on Diabetes Stem Cells

Reports on diabetes stem cells and what has been accomplished since the Edmonton breakthrough abound and this one published in the Annals Transplant is one of them. Witkowski et al from New York's Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, Department of Surgery reported on pancreatic islet transplantation.

Since it has been six years from the time the Edmonton team published their excellent result with the pancreatic islet transplantation patients, Witkowski and team decided to analyze where the diabetes stem cells islet transplantation stands now.

They studied the results of nineteen institutions all over North America that have been reported in the registry. They planned to compare these with the updated summary from the Edmonton Group. Remember that the Edmonton group demonstrated the one-year insulin independence for their cases. This result was with type 1 diabetics.

When the Witkowski group compared the nineteen reports with the result of the Edmonton team, they found the former largely confirmed the Edmonton's result. More than 55% of the patients attained complete insulin-independence one year after the transplant.

What happened after one year? Well, only 10% remained insulin independent after five years. But more than 80% still had better glycemic control. And these did not have hypoglycemic episodes. One can say the results are encouraging.

Currently diabetes stem cells through the islet graft is still not a cure for all brittle diabetics but it is good news to know that Canada has given this area of work a nonresearch status. And in the US? It is close to getting approved by the FDA to receive a biological license status.

Bertuzzi et al of Milano, Italy’s Vita-Salute University San Rafaele Scientific Institute added some important information. This team said that inflammatory events could influence the islet survival during the early period of after the transplantation.



After they studied the data from the Edmonton procedure, they suggested that reducing the inflammatory state around the islets may be a way to reduce complications. This will only improve the islet engraftment. Now we see that this research is progressing steadily.

There has been progress on diabetes stem cells research. The researchers are regenerating the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. They were successful at Harvard University at transforming the cells of the normal pancreas into beta cells by using three dormant genes. This will be great for the diabetics who cannot metabolize sugar and to compensate have to get insulin injections every day.

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