There’s been lots of research into finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. Two areas where a lot of this research is being done are islet cell transplantation and pancreas transplantation.
Islet cells are the special cells in the body that make insulin. They can be transplanted, but lots of these cells are needed for each person who receives a transplant. This means a lot of people have to donate their organs for transplants for it to become a common way to treat type 1 diabetes. Islet cell transplants have been tried in over 200 people with type 1 diabetes around the world and many of them are now living lives free of insulin injections - but it didn’t work for everybody. Islet cell transplantation has some risks and possible side effects from the medications, which have to be given to prevent the cells being rejected by the body.
At the moment islet cell transplants are not being carried out in children and adolescents who have type 1 diabetes. This is because researchers are not sure about the long-term side effects of the medications, which may be extremely toxic. Researchers won’t go ahead with islet cell transplants in children until they’re sure that it’s safe. The Diabetes UK web site has some great information about islet cell transplants check out the link below.
Pancreas transplants have also been tried in adults with type 1 diabetes to see if getting a new pancreas cures diabetes. There have been some good results, but again there are risks with the actual operation and medications needed to stop the body rejecting the pancreas. At the moment, pancreas transplants are not being carried out in children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes.
Have a look with your Mum or Dad or someone at home at the section on Stem Cell research on this web site - this is another exciting area of diabetes research. There is still a lot of research into a cure for diabetes, there are some good results so far and we hope to hear more about this in the future. Remember it’s really important to look after yourself and your diabetes while still hoping for a cure.