Diabetes treatment may come from pigs

Transplants without anti-rejection drugs

Pig parts progress
Pig parts progressCourtesy 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.

Pigs to the rescue

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

Success in rats - next try non-human primates

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.

Learn more

The American journal of Pathology (click to see the research abstract).
Cure for Diabetes approaches reality Discovery News

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

I know I could probably just look this up on the web, but what fun would that be? Can someone tell me why people with diabetes can't just take an insulin pill? Wouldn't that be more comfortable than having to stick yourself with a needle every time you need to re-up.

posted on Tue, 07/13/2010 - 1:14pm
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Why not take insulin orally (pills)?

A couple companies are working on this.

  • There are several hurdles associated with delivering insulin orally. They include the highly-acidic nature of gastric liquids, the complex nature of the insulin molecules, the rate at which epithelial cells absorb the compound and so on. In order to circumvent most of these problems, the Novo team turned to protein engineering, so as to modify insulin according to needs. “You can't use human insulin [for developing orally-delivered pills]. ]It doesn't work,” explains Novo's chief scientific officer, Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen. The team is currently still tweaking its final product, details of which are currently kept under wraps. Softpedia
  • Chemists from the the Topichev Institute for Petrochemical Synthesis have suggested a unique and efficient solution to the problem having split it into two parts. To ensure that the remedy gets into the blood out of the pill, it is required that the remedy slipped `safely` through the stomach - this is stage one. Then it is necessary to make sure that the remedy gets into the blood in the small intestines quicker than the enzymes would destroy it - this is stage two. Innovations report

That second quote was from eight years ago so I am guessing their clinical trials presented some serious problems.

posted on Wed, 07/14/2010 - 7:24am

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options