Courtesy be_khe A person with diabetes cannot make insulin so insulin needs to be injected at the proper time and amount. Transplanting insulin producing cells called islets may solve the need for insulin injections. Transplanting human islet cells requires an appropriate donor and a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs. Not good.
Before 1980 insulin from pigs allowed people with diabetes to survive. Pig heart valves transplants also worked out in humans.
Scientists recently injected embryonic pig pancreatic cells into rats which grew to became the pancreas, which houses the islet cells that produce insulin. Eight weeks later islet cells from adult pigs were transplanted into that pancreatic tissue and were not rejected
The new research -- the first long-term, successful cross-species transplant of pig islets without immune suppression -- raises the prospect that it may one day be possible to cure diabetes in humans using a similar strategy. Science Dailey
Marc Hammerman and his colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are now beginning experimentation using the same methods on non-human primates.