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September 23, 2003

Research: Cure, Transplants

Question from Nigeria:

I have just been diagnosed with diabetes, and I heard about the pancreas transplant. Does this work? If so, how does one get it? What is the latest on any cure for the disease? Is there hope?

Answer:

There is always hope. People with diabetes are living longer, healthier lives. The problem is that diabetes is very complex and different forms are present. These include type 1 versus type 2 diabetes. If you have type 1 diabetes, you need to be on insulin all the time and failure to get it will cause you to be very sick. Type 2 diabetes is more common and can be treated with oral medications, in addition to insulin.

Pancreas transplants are very successful, but they are usually performed on individuals with type 1 diabetes who also have to have a kidney transplant. This procedure is done at very specialized centers.

JTL

[Editor’s comment: Also, see islet cell transplants at this website, and Pancreas Transplantation at the Diabetes Monitor.

WWQ]