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Medical News & Perspectives
April 15, 2009

Scientists See Hope, Peril in Trials of Islet Transplantation for Diabetes

JAMA. 2009;301(15):1521-1525. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.475

Nearly a decade ago, promising results from a clinical trial demonstrating that patients who received pancreatic islet cell transplants could become insulin independent stoked hope that islet cell transplantation might one day cure type 1 diabetes.

Since then, however, such optimism has been tempered by less promising long-term results, as well as substantial costs and questions about the therapy's safety and utility. Some scientists who are working on refinements that would promote long-term insulin independence say they still see great promise in the islet transplantation—and preliminary clinical studies are putting some recent refinements to the test. But others have questioned whether clinical studies should be scaled back.