Pancreatic cell transplants could ‘change’ the lives of diabetics.

Pancreatic cell transplants could ‘change’ the lives of diabetics.
Pancreatic cell transplants could ‘change’ the lives of diabetics.

Pancreatic cell transplants could ‘change’ the lives of diabetics.

Long-awaited treatment of diabetic mThe first type.. After years of experimentation, transplants of so-called pancreatic islets (finally approved by the world’s health authorities) have shown the ability to “change” the lives of patients.

Valerie Rodriguez does not hide her satisfaction with the “revolutionary” results of this treatment. On October 24th, this former bench coach was one of the first patients in France to undergo a transplant of this type at the regional hospital center in Strasbourg (East).

Before the surgery, Rodriguez tried all the suggested treatments to control her blood sugar levels, with little success. “I used to live constantly with a sword praying over my head,” this energetic 40-year-old told AFP.

“There is a fear of going into a coma because of hypoglycaemia. For example, I had to eat a lot of sugar while driving on the Autobahn.”

But she said she’s “come back to life” since the surgery. “I no longer see such fluctuations in blood sugar levels, physical fatigue has decreased significantly,” she explained on the eve of World Diabetes Day on November 14, “I feel happy. This technology is amazing.”

This “technology” is based on performing a transplant of the so-called islets of Langerhans, which are cells of the pancreas responsible for the secretion of insulin, into the pancreas after being taken from a non-diabetic donor and being in the clinical state death is .


While Valerie Rodriguez did not experience any negative side effects, she did note that this surgical procedure, like other transplants, requires lifelong treatment to avoid the body rejecting the transplanted organs or cells. In Rodriguez’s case, she has to take “seven meds in the morning and six meds at night.” She said in this regard: “In view of frequent cases of hypoglycaemia or tiredness, I prefer Definitely have breakfast.”

20 years of research

And the first clinical trials of this treatment were conducted in Canada in 1999, and then in Europe, and lasted about two decades. And in 2020, the Supreme Health Authority in France gave its approval to use this practice on some patients showing “chronic instability”.

In December 2021, the regional hospital center in Lille, northern France, became the first French facility to perform such a transplant, before the hospital in Strasbourg followed suit.

Recalling her operation, Valerie Rodriguez said: “It was of great interest, there were 15 people in the operating room, everyone wanted to see what was happening.”

Lawrence Kessler, professor of diabetology at Strasbourg Hospital, acknowledged that this new technology represents a “major step forward for patients. For us doctors, this is the culmination of multidisciplinary clinical research at a very high level, a very strong recognition”.

The doctor, who was studying to get a master’s degree on pancreatic islets in rats in 1988, said that “at the scientific career level, studies are pursued in animals and then in humans before the experiment becomes part of routine.” medical care is very satisfactory.”

According to Lawrence Kessler, this treatment is recommended annually for a few hundred patients, a negligible proportion of the 370,000 type 1 diabetics according to the French Diabetes Association.

The diabetes specialist stressed that “this number is limited, but it is essential because it arranges…Patients who cannot find any other treatment alternative“And we’re just getting started: This treatment can be prescribed to other patients for whom the treatment has failed, for example with diseases of the pancreas or cystic fibrosis.”

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