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Diabetes Health Center

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Is There a Diabetes Cure?

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Are stem cells a possible cure for diabetes?

They hold promise, but they're not a treatment now.

Stem cells are cells that can develop into other types of cells. Scientists have had some success with stem cells in type 1 diabetes.

What about islet cell transplantation as a cure for diabetes?

A successful islet cell transplant can improve the quality of life for a person with diabetes. It's an evolving technology that's still being researched.

Islet cells sense blood sugar levels and make insulin. The cells come from a donor.

Once transplanted successfully, the donor cells begin to make and release insulin in response to blood sugar levels. This procedure can provide more flexibility with meal planning and help protect against serious long-term diabetes complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and nerve and eye damage.

The person receiving the transplant must take medicine for the rest of their life to prevent their body from rejecting the donor's cells.

How about pancreas transplantation?

Getting a transplanted pancreas is a possibility for some people with type 1 diabetes. It's usually done in those who also have end-stage kidney (renal) disease.

A pancreatic transplant would help restore blood sugar control. Like anyone else who gets a transplant, the patient would need to take medicine for the rest of their life to help their body accept their new pancreas.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on May 07, 2014
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