Transplanting insulin-making cells from fresh cadavers into diabetes patients can reverse the disease, but the procedure has been too costly for widespread use. Scientists have now developed a less costly version of the procedure.
In a trial of cell transplants in eight patients, five were free of disease 1 year after their transplants, a success rate comparable to that of previous cell-transplant trials. However, in those earlier trials, every patient received an infusion of cells from each of two or occasionally more cadavers. Each infusion costs about $75,000, including the first year of follow-up treatment. In the new trial, the transplant cells for each patient came from only one cadaver—a cost-saving procedure that could make cell transplants more commonplace, says study coauthor Bernhard J. Hering of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.