Japanese doctors have succeeded with treatment of type 1 diabetes; it is the first instance known to medicine. That became possible thanks to successful living-donor pancreatic transplantation. A 27-year-old woman became insulin independent three weeks after successful islet-cell transplantation from her 56-year-old mother.
After isolation, 408,114 Langergans islets (cell formations producing insulin) were immediately transplanted to the young woman. The cells started functioning almost at once. It was for the first time over the 12 years of the disease that the patient could give up insulin in 22 days after the operation. Both women, the mother and the daughter, show healthy glucose tolerance after the operation.
Not only endocrinologists but other doctors and even psychologists must be involved into diabetes treatment. Two previous operations of this type were conducted in the US, but showed no success. Doctor Shinichi Matsumoto and colleagues believe the new method may help overcome the deficit of donor pancreas (pancreatic transplantation is the method currently used). It is also important that transplantation of living-donor islets from relatives can help considerably reduce the risk of rejection of transplanted cells. The researchers emphasize that the new method makes diabetes treatment affordable for more patients.