Patients suffering from type 1 (childhood) diabetes and type 3 (chronic pancreatitis), have good news, as pancreatic islet transplantation is now proving to be an effective treatment for diabetes.
Islets are those cells found in pancreas, which maintain glucose levels, and also play an important role in the digestive system.
Apart from islet transplantation, doctors from the Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, and the University of Minnesota, have created a Theracite, a very small cell in which islets are sealed.
The theracite is then placed in the body, under local anaesthesia.
The Asian Institute of Gastroenterology (AIG) and the University of Minnesota will be organising a workshop in the city on Friday on pancreatic islets at the Taj Deccan. The two-day workshop is being sponsored by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum.
Over 250 delegates are expected to attend the workshop. Dr. GV Rao, Director, Asian Institute of Gastroenterology, and Dr Ashok K Saluja, Professor, University of Minnesota, on Thursday gave details of the workshop and the breakthroughs they have made in islet transplantation technologies.
In type 3 diabetes, once the pancreas stop working, the patient undergoes severe pain and has to take painkillers.
“For them, islet transplantation will definitely work. We remove the pancreas, and transplant islets only back. Since there are no pancreas, the patient will just have to take drugs for that, which are in no way harmful at all,” explained Dr. Ashok K Saluja.
However he pointed out that in islet transplantation, there is always a dearth of donors.
“In the US and other countries, there is always a dearth of islets. Here it may be available, but people may object to it, as we have the culture of cremating bodies. Also this is a better procedure, as children are not capable of taking insulin in right amounts. An overdose can also prove to be lethal,” pointed out Dr. Saluja.
Both the doctors said islet transplantation will work well for type 1 diabetic patients, as research has proven that more than 65 percent of patients reacted positively to the process, and they remained free from diabetes for five years.
Islet transplantation is not yet available in India, but doctors from AIG have been working on it for more than five years. “This subject is not new, as I studied it more than 30 years ago. But what we need are research labs,” said Dr AN Balamurugan, Director, islet core, University of Minnesota.