Transplanted Cells Could Ease Surgery-Induced Diabetes

The cells might rescue those who've undergone partial removal of the pancreas

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FRIDAY, May 25, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors say there's new hope for patients with a severe form of diabetes occurring after partial surgical removal of the pancreas, a condition called pancreatogenic diabetes.

A procedure called "pancreatic islet cell autotransplantation" may help these patients, Mayo Clinic researchers report.

In a prepared statement, co-lead researcher Santhi Swaroop Vege, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine, explained that, "after attempts to control pain and improve malabsorption problems have been exhausted, total or near-total removal of the pancreas is recommended for patients with severe cases of pancreatitis in which pancreas tissue dies."

This can result in pancreatogenic diabetes, however.

The Mayo team studied pancreatic islet autotransplantation in three patients who had 50 percent to 70 percent of their pancreas removed.

The procedure involves isolation and purification of insulin-producing cells (islets) after the entire, or part of the, pancreas is removed. The islets, which are injected into the patient, make their way to the liver, implant there, and begin producing insulin.

Of the three patients, two did not develop pancreatogenic diabetes, and one developed a less complicated form of this kind of diabetes.

"Our initial experience with pancreatic islet autotransplantation in this patient population shows that the procedure is a feasible treatment option," co-lead investigator Yogish C. Kudva, an endocrinologist and associate director of Mayo's human islet isolation laboratory, said in a prepared statement.

"Long-term follow up, expansion to additional patients and research studies will help us better understand the fully utility of this procedure," Kudva said.

The study was to be presented Tuesday at the Digestive Disease Week meeting in Washington, D.C.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has more about pancreatitis.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic, news release, May 22, 2007

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