Friday, 31 August 2007

Islet transplants like low-cal

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Back in 2000, researchers at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada transplanted islet cells in the livers of people with type 1, known as the Edmonton Protocol. Each islet transplant required several cadaver donors. The transplants worked for awhile, but approximately 80 percent of patients required insulin after a couple years. It was assumed the transplanted cells were rejected, but new research points to a new possible culprit -- fat.

Dr. Roger Unger and colleagues of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas performed the Edmonton Protocol in rats with type 1. Fat built up around the transplanted cells in only a month. The cells stopped producing insulin and the rats died after 15 weeks. Dr. Unger explained the liver creates fatty acids from food, and islet transplants in the liver are surrounded by too much fat. He proved his point by repeating the transplant in a separate group of type 1 rats, but this time the rats were on a strict diet. A third group of rats received leptin, a hormone involved in increasing metabolism and decreasing appetite. These rats had an improved response, although the Reuters story does not provide specifics. Here's the study abstract in Diabetes, but ya gotta pay for the full text article.

Bummer. You get an islet cell transplant, but still have to stay away from the Ben & Jerry's. A next step could be testing this theory in human islet cell transplants via a low-calorie, low-sugar diet following transplantation. Read more in Reuters.

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