International News, Research

For the first time, a type 1 diabetes patient stopped needing insulin therapy

Credit: Diabetes Research Institute

Credit: Diabetes Research Institute

Doctors at the University of Miami’s Diabetes Research Institute have successfully treated a patient who has been suffering from diabetes by an innovative, unique method of treatment. They are claiming that with this treatment, the patient needn’t take any kind of insulin injections or any other kind of medication for treating themselves against diabetes. In the new diabetes treatment method, a one-time dose of islet cells is injected inside the body of the patient suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

Wendy Peacock, a 43 year old female, has been suffering from Type 1 diabetes since she was 17. Doctors claim that she is now the first patient who doesn’t need to undergo insulin therapy anymore. Wendy has had to inject herself with insulin every day of her disease to balance the glucose levels in her body, as all diabetes type 1 patients do. Insulin injections were the only treatment present in the world for controlling diabetes before the discovery of this new method.

The pathology behind diabetes is such that the immune system attacks the cells which produce insulin in our body because it perceives these cells as a threat, as a result of an autoimmune response. Attacking those cells results in decreased insulin in the body. Islet cells are responsible for the production of insulin in our body and when the islet cells are damaged, the production of insulin also ceases.

Insulin is responsible for lowering the glucose level in blood. Insulin separates glucose from the blood and sends it to the cells for metabolism process. High levels of sugar in blood can incur a hyperglycemic response and even lead to loss of human life.

With this method, doctors inject islet cells into the patient’s body. Instead of injecting it in the liver, they inject the cell into the omentum. Injecting the cells directly to the liver is also effective but it only works for a limited time period, whereas injecting the islet cells in omentum removes all the problems related to diabetes. Omentum is the body tissue located and wrapped around the organs present in the abdominal area. The islet cells are injected into the tissue with the help of biodegradable scaffolding. The patient’s blood is mixed with thrombin in order to produce Scaffold, which is a substance that is used for controlling the bleeding in the surgeries.

Thrombin, when mixed with the blood cells, forms a jelly like substance that gets stuck with Omentum and protects the injected islet cells from dying or getting rejected within the body. The gel is absorbed by the body, and the injected islet cells receive the necessary oxygen and other nutrients required for them to thrive. After some time, the islet cells start to produce insulin on their own and the blood sugar level in the body begin to decrease with the increase in insulin levels.

Along with this surgery, a therapy is also practiced on the patient’s body. The body becomes anti-resistant and accepts the islet cells for a longer time period. Dr. Camillo Ricordi, who is the director in DRI and professor in University of Miami says that it is not a cure, but it is a huge step taken towards curing people who live with Type 1 diabetes. Wendy Peacock is very happy with her new carefree life in which she does not have to follow the diet and lifestyle restrictions imposed on patients of Type 1 diabetes.

March 24, 2017

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