Islet-cell Transplants: The End of Insulin Shots?
Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, end-stage kidney failure, and leg amputations. It also increases the risk for heart disease. Diabetes mellitus results from high blood sugar levels because of the body's inability to produce or effectively use insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that aids in storing or converting glucose from food into energy. Diabetes is not curable, but it can be managed with lifestyle changes and medications. There are two main types of diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes produce little or no insulin. The main treatment regimen for type 1 diabetes is insulin injections throughout the day, measuring blood sugar levels, watching one's diet, and planning structured meals and activities. People with type 2 diabetes either do not produce enough insulin or their bodies have difficulty putting the available insulin to work. Some people with type 2 diabetes require insulin injections. One hope for cure of type 1 diabetes lies in transplanting the islet cells that are in the pancreas. Islet cells produce and secret insulin into the bloodstream.