Thursday, October 21, 2010

Immune Modulating Treatments for Type 1 Diabetes

By Linda Fugate EmpowHER

If you need an organ transplant and you have an identical twin willing to donate, you have an excellent chance for success in most cases. Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Patients with type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin because of autoimmune damage to the pancreas. The medical literature reports that partial pancreas transplants have been performed between identical twins, with healthy donor and diabetic recipient. This should have cured the diabetes. But it did not cure the autoimmune process that destroyed the recipient twin's original pancreas. The transplanted partial pancreas was also destroyed in a short time.

Type 1 diabetes patients are at risk of damage to many organs and tissues from blood sugar levels outside the normal range. When kidney failure occurs, a treatment option is a combined kidney/pancreas transplantation. Immunosuppressive drugs are necessary for the kidney transplant in almost all cases (since most people don't have identical twins). When the donor kidney comes from a cadaver, it seems reasonable to give the recipient a new pancreas as well. A recent article in the Diabetes medical journal reports on three such patients. All received thymoglobulin and daclizumab as immunosuppressive drugs. Two also received rituximab. These drugs were sufficient to save the new kidneys from immune attack, but the new pancreases were also damaged, and type 1 diabetes returned.

Mycophenolate mofetil has been tried on patients newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in another attempt to stop the autoimmune process. Unfortunately, it was not effective, either alone or in combination with daclizumab.

These failed attempts to stop disease progression with standard immunosuppressive drugs are undoubtedly frustrating to researchers and patients alike. However, they do provide important data. The immune system is perhaps the most complicated system in our bodies, and knowing what does not work gives us clues about where to look next.

Research approaches using blood-derived stem cells have demonstrated promising results in animal models. Check with your doctor to see what the latest results mean to you.

See article for references

Linda Fugate is a scientist and writer in Austin, Texas. She has a Ph.D. in Physics and an M.S. in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. Her background includes academic and industrial research in materials science. She currently writes song lyrics and health articles.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

No comments: