Islet Transplantation
Since 1921 and until recently, insulin by injection has been the major treatment for patients
suffered from diabetes mellitus type 1. After pancreas transplantation, which became
possible in 1977, the next logical step to cure patients with diabetes mellitus type 1 is the
transplantation of the islets of Langerhans.

As the cell transplant techniques are markedly improved, UK doctors successfully
transplanted islet cells to a patient making him the first person to be cured of the illness
[March 9, 2005].  The patient is a 61-year old man and the three procedures were done at
King's College hospital, London.

The doctors injected thousands of harvested cells originating from the pancreases of dead
organ donors into a liver vein of the patient. The cells subsequently developed its own
blood supply and began producing insulin. According to IMS data, there are about 17
million sufferers and the global market for oral diabetes treatments exceeded $4.5 billion
in 2004. This new technique signals the end of the diabetic therapy dependence for all
type 1 diabetes sufferers and definitely it will impact hardly on the insulin market.

Type 1 diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes usually appears before the age of 40. The
patients live with the constant need to be aware of their blood glucose levels and the threat
of long term complications such as blindness, renal failure, amputation, cardiovascular
disease and liver cancer.


Shinichi Matsumoto at Kyoto University Hospital, Japan, successfully transplanted
insulinmaking cells, i.e. islets, from a living donor's pancreas into a woman suffered from
insulin-dependent diabetes for years. This is the first successful transplantation using the
islets from a living donor. Now, both women have a healthy tolerance to glucose.
Pancreatic Cell Transplant from Living Donor Could Treat Diabetes, Newswire, April 18,


Terpstra OT et al, Afd. Heelkunde, Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum, Leiden, [Ned
Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2005 Jan 1;149(1):12-6]
Online news release,, March 9, 2005
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