Hope for diabetics after cell transplant

A new method of treating diabetes in which insulin-producing cells are implanted into the arm could give hope to those suffering from more severe forms of the illness. Swedish doctors have expressed optimism after a successful transplant.

Nine-year-old Lina Gustavsson from Perstorp, in Skåne, is the first patient to receive the insulin-producing cells into her underarm area.

Lina first received the new cells in 2004 and her doctors said that they noticed that the method was working “rather quickly”.

“The transplanted cells have survived and continue to produce insulin, even though it’s now almost three years since the operation,” said Johan Permert, professor and consultant at Karolinska University Hospital, to Svenska Dagbladet.

Since Lina, who was acutely ill at the time of the operation, was given the new cells, the method has been used on another eight Swedes. The strategy appears to be working.

“This could be the method of the future for cell transplants. Not only for diabetics but also for other groups,” said Olle Korsgren, professor of clinical immunology at Uppsala’s Akademiska hospital.