Islet Cell Regeneration

A new generation of therapies for type 1diabetes is likely to come from within ourown bodies. The idea of pancreatic isletregeneration as a therapy for diabetes firstcame to light back in 2001, and it is now ahot topic among researchers in the field.

What do we mean by regeneration?

Regeneration takes advantage of the body’scapacity for healing and renewal, assumingthat the underlying problem of type 1diabetes—the immune-cell attack on theislets in the pancreas—can be overcome.The work done at the Faustman laboratoryover the past five years suggests that thediabetic pancreas has immense regenerativepotential once the immune cells are stoppedfrom attacking and destroying the islet cells.This approach is now coming to the forefrontin diabetes research.

Over the past two years,a multitude of scientificpapers have suggested thatthere are most likely manyways to regenerate theseislet cells. A wide rangeof cell types and existingprecursor cells exist,some in the pancreas andsome in the spleen, inboth normal mice andhumans. If the capacityto regenerate can beharnessed to replenishinsulin-producing isletcells that are destroyed by disease, thenperhaps a “transplant” of stem cells or isletsmay not be needed.

Eliminating disease

As the Faustman laboratory moves forward,the goal will be to eliminate disease inhumans with type 1 diabetes and to stop theimmune-cell attack on the islets. Faustman’sresearch suggests that if the underlyingdisease is eliminated, regeneration canoccur. If this is true in humans, successeswith this approach could apply both to type1 and type 2 diabetes. Disease eliminationcould uncover the remarkable processof self-healing, a process not previouslyconsidered as a potential avenue in thesearch for a cure for diabetes.

How Can I Help?

The cost of the first three years of clinicaltrials at Massachusetts General Hospital isestimated at $11 million. Contribute to theJoinLeeNow campaign and support theseefforts to cure type 1 diabetes in humans.Donations may be made over the Internetor by mail.

Internet: To make adonation over the Internet,please visit www.JoinLeeNow.organd click on “Donate Now.”

U.S. Mail: To mail your donation, please make checks payable to “Iacocca Foundation.”Send donations to thefollowing address:

The Iacocca Foundation
17 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116

Gifts: Give the gift of a donation tosupport important diabetes research.Donations can be made in a loved one’sname. For more information about gift-giving,go to www.JoinLeeNow.orgor call Danielle Briscoe at (212) 255-5340.

Volunteer: For information on becoming acity captain and helping with local effortsto raise money for these research trials,or if you have other inquiries, please callDanielle Briscoe at (212) 255-5340 or sende-mail to

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