Cell Transplant Helping Type 1 Diabetics Avoid Hypoglycaemia

by Barbara Hewitt on March 31, 2015

People in the UK with type 1 diabetes are being helped by a transplant therapy that uses cells from the pancreas, a new study shows.

Patients who have received the cells from donor organs have shown an improved quality of life with a technique that aims to combat hypoglycaemia, a drop in blood sugar triggered in patients on insulin treatment, which can prove fatal.

diabetesbloodType 1 diabetes is caused by the loss of cells in the pancreas that produce insulin which decreases blood sugar levels and diabetics are prescribed insulin to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.

However, severe hypoglycaemia affects one in four patients and those who have repeated episodes of hypoglycaemia may have less severe symptoms such as dizziness and sweating and not realise their blood sugar is low.

This can lead to multiple health problems, the suspension of driving licences, and loss of employment.

Now researchers from Edinburgh in the UK believe that replacing the cells that produce insulin is an effective way of preventing hypoglycaemia.

A team from the University of Edinburgh as part of the Scottish Islet Transplant Programme have found that such transplants decreased hypoglycaemia and restored warning symptoms, making it easier for patients to prevent an episode.

They also pointed out that while type 1 diabetes affects people from all sections of society equally, people from the lowest socio economic groups are at the greatest risk of becoming hypoglycaemic.

Indeed, three quarters of patients referred for transplants in the first nationally funded islet transplant programme were from economically disadvantaged groups.

‘In the UK we have the first nationally funded islet transplant programme. Our programme in Scotland reaches the people that need these transplants the most and has excellent results which transform the quality of life for these people,’ said Dr Shareen Forbes of the university’s School of Clinical Sciences.

The Scottish Islet Transplant Programme is funded by the National Health Service and is free to patients at the point of care.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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