A recent study published on Monday determined that transplants of insulin-producing pancreas cells, or islet cells, can provide glycemic control, restoration of hypoglycemia awareness and maybe avoid some life-threatening drops in blood sugar in people with Type 1 diabetes.
This severe drops in blood sugar can cause seizures, loss of consciousness and death, even after receiving medical care. At the moment the treatment is only available in the U.S. via this medical trials, but with this new findings researchers hope being able to reach more people in the near future.
“The findings suggest that for people who continue to have life-altering severe hypoglycemia despite optimal medical management, islet transplantation offers a potentially lifesaving treatment that in the majority of cases eliminates severe hypoglycemic events while conferring excellent control of blood sugar” – Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The team is planning to look for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licence for the therapy, they even consulted the design of the study with the agency to enable a future approval, as reported by EurekAlert.
For the study, the team from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) analyzed 48 people who suffered from diabetes type 1 and experienced continued hypoglycemia episodes, despite shots insulin and other treatments. They all received at least one purified islet transplant from a deceased organ donor.
After a year, 88 percent of the participants did not suffer from severe hypoglycemic events and had nearly normal glucose levels. Two years later, 71 percent of the participants were still showing promising results, and after another year nearly a half of the subject did not need more insulin shots, while others lowered their doses.
There’s no such thing as risk-free
Even though the study showed significant improvement in the subjects’ health, the transplants of the cells did not occur risk-free. Many individuals had to go through several transplant to show a positive results at all.
Those who succeeded with the transplant, will require lifelong immune-suppressing drugs that can cause infections and lower kidney function. One of the participant even experienced a serious life-threatening adverse effects.
Source: Diabetes Care