The University of Pennsylvania has published a new study offering new hope for type 1 diabetes sufferers, who are prone to suffering life threatening complications of insulin treatment including shakiness, irritability, confusion, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, and even seizures or loss of consciousness. Insulin is regulated by pancreatic cells that produce insulin to assist the body in processing sugar.
Type 1 diabetic patients suffered from hypoglycemia unawareness prior to the pancreatic islet cell transplants were able to recognize their low blood sugar and automatically increase their own blood sugar to normal levels six months after undergoing islet cell transplantation.
“The results of this study suggest that islet cell transplantation may be an effective treatment for patients with type 1 diabetes who are experiencing significant hypoglycemic events because their body isn’t able to recognize their low blood sugar levels,” said Prof. Rickels a lead study author. “Currently, islet cell transplantation is considered investigational for type 1 diabetes patients, but this study shows that it has the potential to dramatically improve a patient’s ability to defend against and recognize symptoms of hypoglycemia and eliminate severe hypoglycemic episodes.”
The study consisted of providing 12 patients with hypoglycemia unawareness and frequent severe hypoglycemia events either one or two infusions of pancreatic islet cells. The subjects all had approximately 30 years of disease history before the infusion, and their bodies’ ability to recognize hypoglycemia was measured prior to the infusion and at six to seven months afterwards. The results were then compared to a control group. Following the islet cell transplantation, the subjects’ time spent hypoglycemic was nearly abolished. In addition, their bodies were able to appropriately respond to experimental insulin-induced hypoglycemia following transplantation.
“Now that we’ve seen improvement in the protection against hypoglycemia as a result of islet cell transplantation, we’re evaluating the longer term durability of these restored defense mechanisms,” said Rickels.