The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami is working on a variety of strategies to cure diabetes that researchers feel are promising.
The disease is caused by the body’s inability to create or use its own insulin, which helps regulate the body’s blood-sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 occurs when a person’s cells do not absorb insulin. Type 2 occurs when a person’s body does not respond to insulin.
Insulin is produced by islet cells, so one strategy the researchers are looking into is a clinical research trial for islet cell transplants. Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the DRI, and Dr. Jay Skyler, deputy director of the DRI, are researchers in the study.
This process transfers islets from the pancreas of a deceased organ donor to a patient with Type 1 diabetes. Once implanted, researchers hope the beta cells in these islets will allow the pancreas to function normally. If this is the case, those with Type 1 diabetes would have no need for daily insulin injections.
Researchers note that it is difficult to find donors who have useful pancreases. The donors typically must have died unnaturally as opposed to disease.
Another method researchers are looking at is working on getting other cells to function as pancreas cells. This method is known as tissue coaxing.
If these practices are successful, there would be a high demand for these transplants. Currently, there are 26 million Americans who currently suffer from diabetes. The supply of cells would not be sufficient to treat that high of a number of cases.
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