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UIC in NIH-funded islet transplantation study for type 1 diabetes

The University of Illinois at Chicago is one of 11 centers in the United States, Canada, Sweden and Norway to participate in the Clinical Islet Transplant Consortium funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Consortium researchers have begun clinical studies to test new approaches to islet transplantation that may lead to improved outcomes and fewer side effects for adults with difficult-to-control type 1 diabetes.

Patients with type 1 diabetes depend on multiple daily insulin injections or an insulin pump because their own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. They often develop life-threatening complications, including damage to the heart and blood vessels, eyes, nerves and kidneys.

Islet transplantation offers the most promise for achieving insulin independence, glucose control and freedom from hypoglycemic attacks for type 1 diabetics, says Dr. Jos Oberholzer, principal investigator and director of cell and pancreas transplantation at UIC.

"This research will help us find the most effective combination of anti-rejection drugs to maximize islet engraftment while reducing toxic side effects," said Oberholzer.

"The ultimate goal is to refine islet transplantation and generate an unlimited supply of islets so that many more people would benefit from this treatment," he said.

Islet transplantation involves isolating islets from a donor pancreas and infusing the cells into the main blood vessel in the patient's liver. If the transplant is successful, the islets lodge in the small blood vessels of the liver and begin producing insulin. Patients must take drugs to suppress their immune system and prevent rejection of the islets. In some cases, patients require more than one infusion of donor islets to produce enough insulin.

At UIC, patients will be enrolled in three protocols to evaluate a combination of different medications to protect the newly transplanted islet cells.


Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzalez
University of Illinois at Chicago

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