Type 1 diabetes is caused due to insufficient or no production of insulin. Insulin is produced by the beta cells (located in islet cells within the pancreas) and helps to direct the glucose from the blood into the body cells. In type 1 diabetes the defense system of the body starts attacking the beta cells resulting in reduced production of insulin. To overcome this deficiency, type 1 diabetes patients have to take insulin injections regularly. In fact it’s a life saving therapy for them.
But what if the cells that produce insulin are transplanted? Using the latest research techniques and technology, scientists are now trying to provide such an alternative to type 1 diabetes patients. Islet cells are taken from the donor’s pancreas and transplanted in the liver of the recipient and if the body accepts the islet cells, the beta cells within them begin to produce insulin and the patients can do away with insulin injections. According to the experts, the procedure involved in islet cell transplantation is less invasive, does not require a long hospitalisations and has fewer side effects. But the procedure is still in it’s experimental stage and it’s long-term efficacy is yet to be determined.
The only concern of islet cell transplantation is that the patient has to take powerful immunosuppressants (to prevent the rejection of the new islet cells by the body) for life, and these drugs may have some side effects of their own, one of them is increased susceptibility to diseases