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Australian team to transplant pig islet cells into patients with unstable diabetes

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 31 July 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3089
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

    Australian researchers have been given permission to do a clinical trial in which pig islet cells are transplanted into adult patients with unstable type 1 diabetes in an attempt to cure their disease, it was announced last week.

    A research group from the company Living Cell Technologies has been granted approval to conduct the trial in New Zealand because there is a moratorium on xenotransplantation, the transplantation of living animal cells or tissues into humans, in Australia.

    In the trial, adults with unstable type 1 diabetes will be given microencapsulated pig islet cells by intraperitoneal injection. The islet cells are coated in a material that allows insulin to pass out into the patient’s bloodstream and nutrients to diffuse into the cells. However, it reduces the risk of rejection by preventing direct contact between the surface of the transplanted …

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