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Pancreatic Cell Transplant from Living Donor Could Treat Diabetes

GDO Report

Japanese researchers have successfully reversed a woman's diabetes by transplanting insulinmaking cells (islets) from a living donor's pancreas into her, reporting their results in a research letter published online today by The Lancet. This is the first successful operation of its kind using the islets from a living donor.

Since the success of islet transplantation in 2000 from the organs of dead donors, demand for the procedure has risen substantially and donors will soon be in very short supply. Islet transplantation from living donors represent an alternative approach to expand the potential donor pool, particularly in countries like Japan where the number of people donating their organs after death is low. Two previous attempts at transplantation from living donors have been carried out in US but were unsuccessful.

The donor was a 56-year-old woman who was the mother of the recipient. She had a compatible blood group and had healthy glucose and insulin concentrations. The recipient was a 27-year-old woman who had developed insulin-dependent diabetes when she was 15 years old. She had been admitted to hospital to control her frequent hypoglycaemic episodes, where her blood sugar levels would drop below normal. She received insulin injections every day in hospital.

Shinichi Matsumoto (Kyoto University Hospital, Japan) and colleagues isolated islet cells from the donor and transplanted them into the recipient's liver at Kyoto University Hospital on Jan 19, 2005. After the operation they monitored the patient's blood glucose. The investigators gradually weaned the recipient off insulin and she became insulinindependent 22 days after the transplantation. She has now been insulin independent for 2 months. The donor had no complications and both women have a healthy tolerance to glucose.

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