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Pig Islets in Humans Offers Hope For Type 1’s

Posted: Thursday, February 08, 2007

A world-first trial by an Australian company could see pigs offering new hope for suffers of type one diabetes.

Australian biotechnology company Living Cell Technologies is testing its transplant of its porcine pancreatic cell product DiabeCell in six diabetics at a hospital in Moscow.

The Diabecell capsule is transplanted into the stomach of a patient and allows insulin to be released mimicking the human pancreas of a non-diabetic and helping to regulate blood glucose levels in people with type one diabetes.

Living Cell Technology endocrinologist John Court said DiabeCell offered considerable advantages over other treatments for diabetes, including replacing a daily injection which was associated with unpleasant side-effects. "The result of this type of treatment, we hope to be the most valuable, is to help prevent complications of diabetes," Dr Court said.

"Blindness and heart disease are some of the unexpected complications and we hope it (DiabeCell) has the potential to improve diabetes control, and stop those complications. "It certainly could provide a very different and greater potential to improve the method of treatment. "In this case we would not have to give the patients drugs."

Dr Court said by using bio-certified pigs - bred in New Zealand - there was the possibility that more type one diabetics would be able to be treated.

Current trials were underway with human donors acting as a similar agent to Diabecell, but with only 200 Australian organ donors a year, Dr Court said more diabetics could have access to treatment if the pig trials were successful.

Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital diabetics transplant unit director Bernie Tuch said if the trial was successful it could be wonderful for diabetics. This could be a way for type one’s to get off of insulin. "But I hesitate until research is available and we can really see if it works."

Results of DiabeCell on diabetic mice and primates show it was well tolerated and led to a reduction in the insulin requirements. No adverse reaction to the transplant was apparent, the company said.



Source: Diabetes In Control: Science Research, Feb 2007

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