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Better treatment for type 1 diabetes

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Andjela Ergic, ECU Reporter

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A more effective treatment for type 1 diabetes may be available in the future thanks to new research from Sydney’s Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

The team of researchers, led by Professor Jenny Gunton, investigated alternative methods of pancreatic islets transplantation, and found that transplanting islets (cells producing insulin) into the quadricep muscles of mice was not only successful, but also safer than the current clinically-approved process of transplanting islets through the portal vein into the patient’s liver.

According to the National institute of Diabetes and Digestive and kidney diseases, Pancreatic Islet Transplantation is the process of extracting insulin-making cells (islets) from a deceased organ donors pancreas and transferring them into a type 1 diabetics liver.

Professor Gunton’s team analysed mice injected with murine (mouse) islets, and found that injections in the kidney had a 100% success rate, followed by the muscle (70%), the portal vein (60%), whilst the liver capsule didn’t succeed.

Transplantation of human islets into the kidneys of mice, showed 75-80% of the mice recipients cured of diabetes.

First author on the paper, Rebecca Stokes, said the current method of transplanting the islets into the liver, via the portal vein, presented dangerous health risks, therefore their research provided safer alternatives for patients.

“Currently, islet transplants are infused into a patient’s liver via the portal vein.  This site is used for islet transplants due to its exposure to both nutrients and insulin in the body.

“However, islet infusion into the liver also presents certain risks for the patient, including potential complications from bleeding, blood clots and portal hypertension,” said Ms Stokes.

Another major issue of transplanting islets into the portal vein was the ‘rapid loss of many [islets] after the transplantation’.

Islet therapy is only available through organ donation, therefore Ms Stokes and her team have also been testing alternative methods.

“Professor Hawthorne’s research examined the process of transplanting porcine (pig) cells into humans and holds great promise for treating type 1 diabetes into the future as a solution to overcoming the shortage of donor organs available for producing human islets for transplantation.

“Both studies showed that islet transplantation into the muscle site worked more successfully than transplantation into the portal vein.”

“We have identified a potentially new approach to treating type 1 diabetes and we now hope to progress these findings into clinical trials for humans,” Ms Stokes said.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of diabetes cases in Australia and there is currently no cure available.

 

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Better treatment for type 1 diabetes