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Transplanted Pig Cells in Human Produce Insulin

Australia-based Living Cell Technologies (LCT) Limited has published evidence outlining the survival and identification of //live porcine islet cells and insulin production in a human patient 10 years after receiving a pig islet cell transplant.

The scientific paper published in the March 2007 issue of the international journal Xenotransplantation outlines how LCT has demonstrated the long-term safety, viability and function of its encapsulated porcine islets in a human patient over an extended period of time, without the use of immunosuppression.

In 1996, a 41-year-old diabetic was injected with LCT’s prototype diabetes product containing pig islet cells to help regulate his blood glucose levels and control of diabetes. The transplanted cells helped reduce the patient’s insulin requirement by 34 percent for over a year, which provided better control and overall well-being. By 2005, the patient’s glycated hemoglobin levels remained lower than the pre-transplant levels pointing to improved long-term control of blood glucose levels.

Ten years later, the patient suggested that he was still obtaining benefit from the transplant. LCT scientists assumed that the cells would not be alive or functioning after that period, but the patient convinced LCT scientists to organize for a laparoscopy to check. This resulted in finding both living and functioning pig islet cells in his abdomen.

“This has never been achieved before. It is a profound step forward for safe, effective and long term diabetes control and shows the ability for pig cells to survive inside a human for an extended period of time and without immune suppression,” said Prof Bob Elliott, LCT Medical Director.

Dr Christina Buchanan, a Biochemist from the University of Auckland and an expert in insulin, conducted the analysis to ensure that the insulin detected in the patient’s blood samples were unequivocally pig and not human insulin – the final
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