Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pig-to-Monkey Transplant Treats Diabetes

pig to monkey transplantUsing embryonic tissue for interspecies organ transplants offers a way to evade the host's immune system, say scientists who used the method to treat type 1 diabetes in primates. By transplanting embryonic pancreatic tissue from pigs to monkeys, Israeli researchers report that they were able to reverse the primates' insulin deficiency.

The key, the researchers say, is the embryonic tissue's ability to grow into a new pancreas that uses blood vessels from the host animal. The host blood vessels are not subject to the dangerous immune reaction that has always dogged xenotransplants of mature pancreatic material.

The research team, led by Yair Reisner of the Weizmann Institute, claims that the results, published in the latest issue of the journal PNAS, could offer an attractive replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the destruction of the pancreas means that sufferers rely on injections of the hormone insulin to control their blood-sugar levels.

Full story here.

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