Information about type 1 diabetes and pancreas transplantation

by Anne

One of my friend has type 1 diabetes since 10 years now. I've helped her gather some information about type 1 diabetes, so she can handle every "unusual" situation.



She is doing fine, and feel comfortable enough; but as she is a "want to know everything" person, she is interested in pancreas transplantation. She and I want to know:


Is there any hope with pancreas transplantation? Who should do it? When to do? How long after it can a type 1 diabetes live without diabetes? Is this possible?

By the way, what about these stem cells? Is there any new good news about this issue?

Thanks for your answers.


Answer

Well Anne, I hope I have a friend like you.
The problem with diabetes type 1 is that the islet cells in the pancreas are no longer producing insulin; therefore, it seems logical that transplanting a new pancreas to type 1 diabetic patient might cure their disease, and it usually does.


After transplantation, the patient will be cured from diabetes and it is totally unusual to get it again to the rest of his/her life. Frequent insulin shots and regular glucose tests will not be suffered any more, besides further diabetic complications will be completely stopped.


In fact, pancreas implantation is the treatment of choice for late neural and renal diabetic complications
There are 2 types of performed pancreas transplantations; whole pancreas transplant and partial pancreas transplant (involves transplantation of islets cells only).


Unfortunately, operation itself is dangerous; from every ten patients performing this operation, at least 1-2 patients die.
It is likely that the body rejects the new pancreas, so the patient has to have immunosuppressive drugs for the rest of his/her life. Immunosuppressive drugs like Azathioprine and cyclosporine are more likely to cause high risks for infections and other serious side effects. Also, these types of operations are not indicated for people who have coronary heart disease.


According to stem cells, scientists do believe that stem cells research, particularly researches done on embryonic stem cells, introduces hopeful promises of curing type 1 diabetes, besides providing a powerful way to control type 2 diabetes.


Scientists can now direct stem cells to grow to form other types of cells, especially insulin-producing cells.

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