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Six centres are receiving nearly Â£10m of government funding to offer transplants of insulin-producing cells.
The technique has been used on a handful of patients already to reduce the risks of coma-inducing blood sugar attacks in people with type 1 diabetes.
Experts hope the therapy can be refined in the future to offer a complete cure.
People with type 1 diabetes do not produce enough insulin, which means they have to rely on injections of the hormone.
The decision to fund this programme will be life-changing for some people
Douglas Smallwood, of Diabetes UK
There are about 250,000 people with the condition, which usually develops in childhood and is unconnected with lifestyle factors such as obesity unlike the type 2 version of the disease.
The procedure involves obtaining cells - known as islet cells - from the pancreas of a dead donor and injecting them into the patient's liver.
Once there, the cells get to work producing insulin.
The major international breakthrough was announced in 2000 in Canada but the first UK transplant was carried out by London's King's College Hospital in 2002.
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I have heard about this proceedure of transplanting islet cells in Diabetic patients. However, Diabetes is still an auto immune disorder. Which means that over a period of time ( that is likely to vary between patients) the auto immune system will pick up on the fact that there are islet cells functioning in the body and it will slowly destroy them.
While it gives the patient a period of time without needing insulin injections, it is only a period of time. A fairly major operation that may only work briefly. I wouldn't feel comfortable about this sort of proceedure being done on my daughter until a way has been found to make sure the auto immune system didn't attack the new cells. Immuno suppressnats etc isn't really the answer I'm looking for.
I am confident that as the research progresses a cure will be found.
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