Islet Transplantation

There are many ways that diabetics deal with their disease. Many take medications, others resort to finding relief through natural supplements. But there are those who seek help by way of a procedure called islet transplantation. For some, this has proven to be a very effective venture.

In order to understand the importance of an islet transplantation, you first have to understand the important role that islets play in a diabetic's insulin management.

Islets are a specialized group of five different types of insulin-producing cells located in the pancreas. Besides producing insulin, these islets also secrete it. In addition to producing insulin, these cells also produce an opposing hormone known as glucagon. The two-fold purpose of glucagon is to release fatty acids from fat tissue, but more importantly to release glucose that is stored in the liver.

The goal of this procedure is to take islets from a donor pancreas and introduce them into a diabetic's pancreas. The hope is that the new islets will take over and begin to produce a sufficient amount of insulin for the diabetic, thus eliminating the need for additional insulin to be artificially introduced into the body.

Since the islets are added from an outside source, they run the risk of being identified as foreign tissue and being attacked by the body. In order to combat this reaction, the diabetic will need to use immunosuppressants in their follow-up therapy to lower the risk of rejection.

The success of islet transplantation has been well documented. After the first year following the procedure, more than half of those undergoing this procedure were able to produce enough insulin on their own.

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