A new technique that grows insulin-producing cells and can protect them from immune attack after they are transplanted may offer new hope for treating some people with diabetics.
In type-1 diabetes, the body turns on itself and attacks the so-called beta cells inside clusters in the pancreas called “islets”.
These beta cells are responsible for gauging sugar levels in the blood and releasing insulin to keep them stable. Without them, diabetics must rely on insulin injections or pumps.
One treatment devised to end that reliance involves transplanting donor islets into diabetes, but the process is complicated by several obstacles, including a shortage of donors.
Islets also often fail to connect with blood supply, and even when they do, like other transplants, they can come under attack by the recipient’s immune system, which views the cells as invaders.
As a result, patients have to take drugs that suppress their immune systems, protecting their transplant but potentially exposing the rest of their body to illness.
Originally published at Barron’s