Islet cell transplantation for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.
Diabetes mellitus is estimated to affect at least 16 million individuals in the United States and 135 million persons worldwide. It is a significant cause of morbidity and early mortality. The related expenses are astronomical with at least 15% of healthcare expenditures in the United States being used for the treatment of diabetes and its complications, a figure that approaches US$100 billion annually. The Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) convincingly showed that intensive glucose management delays the onset and slows the progression of diabetic complications. Numerous studies have shown that pancreas transplantation not only delays the onset and progression of diabetic complications, but in some cases reverses some of the effects of diabetes. Human islet cell transplantation provides an alternative, less invasive alternative to whole organ transplantation. Human islet allotransplantation would only exacerbate the organ shortage, as recipients usually require islets from more than one pancreas. Xenotransplantation of porcine islets is a more attractive option; however, the recipient's immune response to xenografted tissue would be a formidable obstacle. Microencapsulation of the islets is a method of immunoisolation that would prevent the need for immunosuppressive drugs and the risks associated with their long-term use and have the potential to make xenoislet transplantation a clinical reality.
Kendall, WF; Collins, BH; Opara, EC
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