THURSDAY, May 11, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- In a research letter published in the May 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists report a step forward in the plan to create a truly artificial pancreas, offering new hope to patients with type 1 diabetes.
A 43-year-old woman with difficult-to-control diabetes had insulin-producing islet cells transplanted into her omentum. The cells began producing insulin faster than expected, and after one year she is doing well and doesn't need insulin injections, the University of Miami researchers said.
This new research was a proof-of-concept study expected to be the first step on a path toward developing a mini-organ called the BioHub. In its final stages, the BioHub would mimic a pancreas and act as a home for transplanted islet cells, providing them with oxygen until they could establish their own blood supply.
"We're exploring a way to optimize islet cell therapy to a larger population. This study gives us hope for a different transplant approach," lead author David Baidal, M.D., an assistant professor in the University of Miami's Diabetes Research Institute, told HealthDay. Baidal said the study results need to be replicated in other patients, and the researchers want to see what happens post-treatment over a longer time. The researchers plan to test the omentum as a site in five more patients.