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 Beta Islet Cells

Islet Cell Tranplantation Links

Immune Tolerance Network
Islet Cell Resource Centers
Islet Replacement Research Foundation
Transition Therapeutics
The Endless Possibilities of Beta Cell Regeneration (.pdf format)

Not sure what something means?  Look it up our
Medical Glossary

Beta  Islet Cells

Beta Cell:  A cell that makes insulin. Beta cells are located in the islets of the pancreas and also called beta islet cells.

 Beta  Islet Cells

Interested in a Transplant?
Islet Cell Clinical Trials

See, Islets of Hope's Clinical Trials section

Are you a candidate for the Clinical  Transplant Program in Edmunton, Canada?  (U.S. citizens may also apply.)

Clinical Islet Transplant Program - Alberta, CA

Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry (CITR)
 Registry news and reports and links to general information about islet/beta cell transplants.

Transplant Center Locations


55-Year Diabetic "Can now leave the house without fear" After Islet Cell Transplant

Download (free) animated video clips of islet transplant procedures from Diabetes Research Institute.

Did you know?

.... that there are more than one type of islet cell?

... that the average person has about 1 million islets in their pancreas?

... that the pancreas does more than just produce insulin?  It also manufactures digestive juices that help break down food and hormones (including insulin) that help the body regulate how the body metabolizes and stores energy.  The part of the pancreas that produces these digestive juices is call the exocrine pancreas.

Information sources for this article and links to more information about islet cell transplantation

Pancreatic Islet Transplantion; National Institutes of Health, NDIC, NIH Publication No. 04–4693, November 2003

The Islet Foundation

Islet cell transplant: Emerging treatment for type 1 diabetes;  Mayo Clinic, 09/30/2005

Islet Transplantation
American Diabetes Association

DiabetesUK links
What are islets?
Islet cell transplants
History of transplants
UK Islet research

think like a pancreas  
Gary Scheiner, CDE
Think Like a Pancreas:
 Many books offer advice on managing diabetes, but few focus specifically on the day-to-day issues facing those who use insulin.  Scheiner, a certified diabetes educator and himself an insulin user himself since 1985, gives you the tools to "think like a pancreas"--that is, to successfully master the art and science of matching insulin to the body’s ever-changing needs. Free of medical mumbo jumbo,  IOH Rating 5/5 


diabetes news headlines and research                                                       diabetes research information
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Diabetes research, clinical trials, studies
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Islet Cell Transplantation Significantly Improves Glycemic Control in Diabetes - Patients with type 1 diabetes who receive transplants of insulin-producing islet cells have significantly more stable blood glucose levels and fewer hypoglycemic episodes.  05/31/2006

Mini Site Index
What is islet transplantation?
About the pancreas
Islet cells and two important hormones they make
Research updates
Islet cell transplant centers

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Pancreas (organ) transplant information

What is islet transplantation?

Islet transplantation is an experimental procedure where islets of Langerhans (clusters of beta cells) are taken from a donor pancreas and transplanted into another person. Beta cells in these islets then begin to make and release insulin in the pancreas of the patient receiving the transplant.

Although still considered experimental in the United States, there are centers all over the world performing islet transplants, and with promising success.  

About the pancreas

The pancreas is a pear-shaped organ about the size of your hand (or, about 6 inches long) that is located behind the lower part of the stomach. A healthy pancreas makes insulin and digestive enzymes that help the body metabolize and use food for energy. Spread all over the pancreas are clusters of cells called the islets of Langerhans (named after the scientist who is credited with discovery of the clusters).

Islet cells and two important hormones they produce

Islets of Langerhans are made up of two types of cells:

  • alpha cells, which make glucagon, a hormone that raises the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood, and
  • beta cells, which make insulin

Glucagon and insulin interact constantly to keep blood glucose (sugars) in check. When blood glucose is too low, glucagon triggers the body to release stored energy (glycogen) to raise blood glucose levels.

Insulin is released to open cells, like a key to a lock, so that glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream can enter into the cells.  In the absence of sufficient insulin, blood glucose levels grow higher (hyperglycemia) and must be treated.  

If your beta cells do not produce enough insulin, diabetes will develop.  In the juvenile form of type 1 diabetes, this insulin deficit is caused by an autoimmune process in which the body's immune system sees the pancreas as "foreign" and attacks and destroys the beta cells. When this happens, a person becomes "insulin dependent."  This means, without daily supplementation of insulin (through injection or infusion), a person with type 1 diabetes would die.

Islet cell transplant research updates - headlines and stories

Islet Cell Advances May Fight Diabetes:   New Technique in Islet Cell Transplantation Uses Ultrasound Technology;  An advance in an experimental treatment that promotes natural insulin production among people with type 1 diabetes may mean that more patients will one day be able to live without daily insulin injections. ... Researchers used ultrasound guidance to help them inject and transplant insulin-producing cells, known as beta-islet cells, into the liver. They also developed a technique that appears to lower the risk of bleeding complications associated with the procedure.   ...Their islet-transplantation technique is minimally invasive and could potentially be done as a same-day procedure, says researcher Saravanan Krishnamoorthy, MD.  Salynn Boyles,

Cell Transplants for Type 1 Diabetes:   Almost 60% of Patients Skipped Insulin Injections for 1 Year After Transplant.  Sept. 8, 2004 -- Transplants of healthy, specialized pancreatic cells can help people with type 1 diabetes make their own insulin, at least for a while, according to a new study.  

Severe Hypoglycemia is Rare After Islet Transplantation:  Registry Sheds Light on Procedure’s Risks and Benefits.  Episodes of dangerously low blood glucose, or hypoglycemia, were greatly reduced in people who received an islet transplant for poorly controlled type 1 diabetes, according to an analysis of outcomes in 138 patients who had the procedure at 19 medical centers in the United States and Canada.  NIH News, 09/06/2005

Transition Therapeutics Inc. (Transition):  News Release:  that patient enrollment has commenced for its lead regenerative therapy in an exploratory Phase IIa clinical trial in type 2 diabetes patients, a short course of combination therapy aimed at stimulating the regeneration of the body's insulin-producing beta islets cells.  09/12/2005

Islet success continues - Six people have now undergone islet transplantation in the UK and results continue to be encouraging.  06/28/2005

Mother cures daughter of diabetes - A woman has been cured of diabetes thanks to a donor transplant of insulin-producing cells from her mother.  Three months after the operation at Japan's Kyoto University Hospital, both mother and daughter are fit and well.  It is the first time an islet cell transplant from a living donor has worked, the doctors told The Lancet.  04/19/2005

World's-first living donor islet cell transplant a success - On January 19, at Kyoto University Hospital, Dr. Koichi Tanaka and Dr. James Shapiro, along with a team of Japanese surgeons, removed part of a 56-year-old woman's pancreas. Dr. Shinichi Masumoto then isolated the living islets in the Kyoto Centre for Cell and Molecular Therapy. Under Dr. Shapiro's supervision, the team then transplanted the insulin-producing cells into the woman's 27-year-old diabetic daughter. ...  The transplanted islets began producing insulin within minutes, explains Dr. Shapiro.   02/04/2005

Single-donor Islet Transplantation Procedure Shows Promise For Patients With Type 1 Diabetes - Patients with type 1 diabetes who received islet transplantation from a single donor pancreas were insulin independent one year later, according to a study in the February 16 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on medical applications of biotechnology.  03/01/2005

Centers Report Islet Transplant Results in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes.  Researchers from 12 medical centers in the United States and Canada, who have performed islet transplants in 86 patients with type 1 diabetes, published their results today in the first annual report of the Collaborative Islet Transplant Registry (CITR). The report ( analyzes many factors that can affect the outcome of this experimental procedure for people with severe or complicated type 1 diabetes.  (NIDDK) 09/27/2004

Almost 60% of patients skipped insulin injections for 1 year after cell transplant - Web MD, 09/04/2004

Drug Prevents Diabetes Recurrence After Islet Cell Transplantation - A new anti-inflammatory compound called Lisofylline prevents diabetes from coming back after manufacturing islet cells are transplanted into mice, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Virginia Health System. The study is published in the January 20 issue of the journal Transplantation.  01/20/2004

New Islet Cell Transplant May Avoid Surgically Induced Diabetes - A 36-year-old Chicago man is recovering from a partial pancreatectomy followed by an auto-islet cell transplant at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago. The innovative dual procedure was performed in an effort to alleviate the patient's severe, painful pancreatitis while preserving his ability to secrete insulin and avoid surgically induced diabetes.  12/24/2001

Scientists Successfully Grow Insulin-Secreting Cells To Treat Diabetes - UCSD School of Medicine scientists have successfully cultured human beta cells that grow indefinitely, and that could potentially serve as an unlimited source of insulin-producing tissue for transplantation to cure people with diabetes.  06/12/2000

Islet cell transplant centers

Baylor College of Medicine/The Methodist Hospital
Center for Islet Transplantation at Harvard Medical School
Diabetes Research Institute
Emory Transplant Center
Hospital Infantil de México
Multi Organ Transplant University Health
Northwestern University, NWU Info, More NWU Info
Southern California Islet Consortium
The University of Alberta
The University of Chicago
The University of Massachusetts Medical Center
The University of Minnesota
The University of Pennsylvania
The University of Tennessee, Memphis
Washington University, St. Louis

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Page Updated 05/28/2006