Houston, TX (January 23, 2002) — Within 24 hours of receiving insulin-producing cells from the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami, a Houston woman has begun to produce the life-saving hormone on her own for the first time in 30 years, and in doing so she’s become the first successful islet cell transplant recipient in the State of Texas.
The clinical trial, carried out at Baylor College of Medicine and Methodist Hospital, demonstrates the clinical benefits of the newest cellular isolation and preservation technologies developed at the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). These techniques allow donor organs from any state in the country to be processed in Miami and the resulting fragile cells preserved and successfully returned for use in transplantation in that state.
Patients with diabetes need no longer reside close to an islet isolation facility to be candidates for this procedure. “I’m delighted that we have been the first in the U.S. to demonstrate that islets processed at one center can be safely preserved, transported and transplanted at another institution across the country,” explains Camillo Ricordi, M.D., Scientific Director of the Diabetes Research Institute and Professor of Surgery and Medicine at the University of Miami.
“On a larger scale, this will be very important for regulatory agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to take into consideration as planning for future trials at other institutions gets underway. It’s a win-win for everyone, and an advance that will make islet transplantation more available to all patients that can benefit from it.”
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic debilitating disease that affects more than 1 million individuals in the United States, the overwhelming majority of whom are diagnosed in childhood. In addition to requiring self-administration of insulin multiple times a day, patients typically suffer many complications including kidney failure, nerve damage, heart disease, and blindness. Although whole organ transplant is an effective treatment, it is associated with much higher peri-operative risks. Islet transplantation, a minimally invasive procedure, is currently performed under local anesthesia as an out patient procedure that typically lasts less than an hour to complete.
“Although the perpetual shortage of organ donors remains an obstacle for more widespread use of the islet transplantation procedure,” adds John Goss, M.D. principal investigator of the study and an associate professor of surgery at Baylor College of Medicine,”islet cell transplantation can clearly lead to a significant improvement in the care of patients with diabetes.”
The Houston case “went flawlessly,” according to Charles Brunicardi, M.D., Chairman of Surgery at Baylor and Chief of Surgery at Methodist. “Our patient has blood sugars ranging between 90 and 100, which is normal, and I think it’s wonderful. It is through collaborative efforts such as this that the field moves closer and closer towards a cure.”
Mitra Zehtab, MD, MBA