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[IP] Research Update

There are a lot of variables in this study, but let's hope those cells live 
beyond a year!
     MIAMI, Dec 7 (Reuters) - A Michigan woman has become the first person 
     to undergo an experimental cell transplant that doctors hope will lead 
     to a cure for diabetes, officials at the University of Miami said on 
     On Sept. 11, doctors at the University of Miami's Diabetes Research 
     Institute transplanted insulin-producing cells, called islets, and 
     bone marrow cells from a deceased, unrelated donor into Jackie Warren 
     Demijohn, an outreach counsellor from Farwell, Michigan. 
     The operation, made public on Monday, made Demijohn, 40, the first 
     person to receive islets and specially enriched bone marrow without 
     receiving an organ transplant at the same time.
     Demijohn had been suffering since she was seven from Type I diabetes, 
     meaning that her insulin-producing cells had stopped functioning, 
     forcing her to rely on insulin shots to control her blood sugar 
     <snip for space>
     Since the operation, Demijohn has been able to control her blood sugar 
     levels and cut the amount of insulin she must inject each day by about 
     half. She also has told doctors that her vision has improved and that 
     she has regained sensation in her feet, which could be a sign of 
     improved circulation. 
     "She's doing well," Zehtab said. 
     There have been several islet cell transplant attempts at other 
     medical centres, but they have failed or had limited success. Diabetes 
     patients also have been cured since the late 1980s by whole or partial 
     pancreas transplants, but those have been undertaken only in patients 
     receiving kidney transplants because diabetes has caused their kidneys 
     to fail. 
     Organ transplant patients have to take immune-suppressing drugs for 
     life to keep their bodies from rejecting their new organs. Diabetes 
     patients who had not needed new organs had been barred from cell 
     transplants because the risks associated with anti-rejection drugs - 
     which can include cancer - had been considered too serious to allow 
     the cell transplants alone, Zehtab said. 
     Demijohn is the first diabetes patient to receive islet cells without 
     a transplanted organ, and with a new drug from Roche 
     Biomedical-Boehringer Mannheim Corp. called anti IL-2 receptor 
     antibody, which her doctors said is the first genetically-engineered 
     drug that has been shown to reduce the risk of organ rejection. 
     If her treatment proves successful, her immune system would become 
     "tolerant" of the transplanted islet cells, allowing doctors to taper 
     off the other anti-rejection drugs after a year, as is planned, Zehtab 
     Demijohn also was infused with "enriched" bone marrow cells, which her 
     doctors believe cut the risk of rejection. 
     "That is another way of saying that we're eliminating the more mature 
     T cells from the donor's marrow - the ones we believe may cause a 
     reaction against the host's cells called graft versus host disease," 
     Dr. Rodolfo Alejandro, associate director of the Diabetes Research 
     Institute Cell Transplant Centre, said in a statement. 
     The Diabetes Research Institute plans to transplant 12 other patients 
     within the next year as part of the trial. 
Insulin-Pumpers website http://www.insulin-pumpers.org/