Medical Diabetes Treatment Via Transplantation

A diabetes treatment called the Edmonton Protocol has been used to eliminate Type 1 diabetes symptoms.

The process isolates islets from the pancreas of donor cadavers and each recipient receives islets from 1-3 donors.

As with any type of transplant involving human cells, rejection is an issue and to keep recipients immune systems from destroying what the immune system sees as "invader cells," drugs are used to deal with this rejection by suppressing immune function. 

This type of diabetes treatment was pioneered in the 1960's using rats and had a high rate of success but the same type of success hasn't yet been achieved in humans.

Initial information says that out of 36 patients who received this medical diabetes treatment, only 16 didn't require insulin after 1 year. 10 patients had partial pancreatic function after one year and 10 no longer had any pancreatic function.

There have been more studies along the way but compiled research is now indicating that after 1 year, 50-68% of patients are not taking insulin medication, but by five years after the procedure, fewer than 10% of patients are free from taking insulin.

Maybe this will improve as more discoveries are made but it will probably require more knowledge about the rejection issue and the immune system, which is an issue with any kind of transplant.

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Diabetes Treatment With Transplants Not  Very Successful Over The Long Term

Some factors indicated in patients with better outcomes were: Older than 35 years, lower pre-transplant triglycerides and lower pre-transplant insulin use.

Some of the patients did retain partial pancreas function after 5 years, which is a bit of a bonus, since the higher the insulin level, the more that insulin resistance becomes a factor. Insulin resistance is one of the reasons that diabetics age prematurely and body organs and functions begin to break down.

Since the year 2000, several hundred of these procedures have been done and the first patient received the procedure in 1999.

The major limit on the amount of these procedures being performed has been the availability of donor organs. Out of the organs donated, many are not suitable for the process because they don't meet the strict criteria for transplanting and the islets are often damaged or destroyed during the extraction procedure.

Studies are still being done with this project and it is referred to as the Edmonton Protocol because the procedure was started and is ongoing in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. 

Also, I didn't see anything in the research regarding diet and we all know that is an important factor. It's possible that some of the patients thought they were cured and returned to the eating habits that got them into trouble in the first place.

Maybe future articles published on this procedure will give information on this.

Not a big success yet, but maybe someday!

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