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Update for Islet Cell Transplants for Diabetes

About 58% of diabetes patients given an experimental transplant of pancreatic cells are able to live without insulin injections a year later, Canadian and U.S. doctors reported last week. Researchers at 12 medical centers in the United States and Canada reported on 86 patients with type 1 diabetes in the first annual report of the Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry.

The report, on the Internet at www.citregistry.org, shows that 61% of patients who got the transplants no longer had to inject insulin six months later. This fell to 58% after a year.

"We now have much-needed information on the short-term results of islet transplantation," said Dr. Thomas Eggerman of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, one of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which funded the project.

"Our goal is to collect data on both short- and long-term outcomes for all patients who receive islet transplants so we can better define the overall risks and benefits of this exciting but still experimental procedure," Eggerman added in a statement.
Between 1990 and 1999, only 8% of islet transplants worked well enough to render patients insulin-free for a year or more. In 2000 Dr. James Shapiro at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, pioneered a new technique now called the Edmonton protocol, which works much better.
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