The Scripps-Whittier Diabetes Research Program at the University of California, San Diego, has announced that sometime in late 2002, it will create a new islet-research center focused on harvesting islets and transplanting them into humans. In addition, the new lab will perform research aimed at replicating islets to help solve the problem with donor shortages.
The lab will be one of only a handful of centers of its kind in the United States. Other islet-research centers currently exist in Miami, Minnesota, St Louis, Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle and at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Under the direction of Alberto Hayek, MD, the Whittier Islet and Transplantation and Research Center will follow the transplant procedures of the revolutionary Edmonton Protocol, which involves transplanting cells into patients immediately after removal from a donor pancreas. By doing this, islets remain fresh, thus eliminating the need for steroids. To protect the transplanted islets from rejection using this protocol, the patients are then put on anti-rejection drugs.
According to a recent Scripps-Whittier newsletter, 14 of 17 people receiving the Edmonton Protocol procedure have maintained normal blood-sugars levels after one year without taking insulin shots.