- A third of type 1 diabetes patients will eventually need a new kidney
- Injecting special cells from a donor’s pancreas into the patient’s liver can help
Implanting donor pancreatic cells into the livers of patients with type 1 diabetes can help them live longer, a study suggests.
A trial of this operation, led by French scientists, showed promising results for type 1 diabetics who undergo kidney transplants.
About a third of people with type 1 diabetes will eventually need a new kidney, because the high blood sugar caused by the disease damages the organs’ blood vessels. And many transplant patients will experience kidney failure again after a few years.
But data shows that an innovative procedure – islet transplantation – can extend the lifespan of patients without further complications following a kidney transplant.
A third of type 1 diabetes patients will eventually need a kidney transplant due to the damage caused by the disease.
A new technique that involves injecting special cells from a donor pancreas into the liver of a kidney transplant patient may extend the life of the new organ
The technique involves taking special cells, called islet cells, from a donor’s pancreas.
These cells produce insulin, the hormone that keeps blood sugar levels stable.
The pancreas is a leaf-shaped gland located near the liver. For reasons that are poorly understood, in type 1 diabetics, the immune system attacks the gland, causing it to fail.
Through this procedure, islet cells are transferred via a catheter into the diabetic patient’s liver along with the kidney transplant. The liver is the chosen site because it has a unique property called immune privilege: it is less likely to mount an immune response than other organs when foreign tissues or cells are transplanted into it.
The new study, presented today at the European Society of Organ Transplantation Congress, involved 330 kidney transplant patients.
They found that patients who underwent islet transplants were 50% less likely to suffer kidney failure than those who did not receive the treatment and lived an average of one year longer.
Researchers at the University of Lille also found that islet transplant patients were 70% less likely to need regular insulin to control their blood sugar levels.
Despite 400,000 Britons living with type 1 diabetes, NHS figures show only 40 islet transplants are carried out each year.
Nephrologist and study author Dr Mehdi Maanaoui said: “We hope that our results will help increase access to islet transplantation. »