A new study just
published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows mixed results in dealing
with Type 1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes — the most severe type of
diabetes that requires close monitoring of blood sugar, multiple insulin
injections during the day, and a careful balancing of food.
In the study islets, which are cells
in the pancreas that produce insulin, were transplanted into 36 patients with
Type 1 diabetes. Results showed that the
transplanted cells provided insulin independence for up to two years for some
patients, but a majority needed insulin again at two years. The islets also
helped in controlling blood sugar levels.
The cells are taken from the pancreas of dead donors, and in
2001 only 400 were available, while there are 2 million people with juvenile
diabetes. Thus, researchers are
looking to the potential of stem cell research.