Clinical islet transplantation: is the future finally now?

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Purpose of review

Clinical pancreatic islet transplantation has evolved into a routine means to restore glycemic control in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) suffering from life-threatening hypoglycemia and severe glucose liability. This chapter examines the current progress in islet transplantation while outlining the remaining limitations preventing this life-altering therapy's application to the broader T1DM population.

Recent findings

Islet transplantation has recently been demonstrated to provide superior glycemic control with reduced glucose lability and hypoglycemic events compared with standard insulin therapy. Transplant outcomes have steadily improved, in part, reflective of refinements, including more optimal islet donors and isolations, safer transplant techniques and more effective anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory intervention. Furthermore, latest insulin independence rates 5-years posttransplant have reached parity with pancreas transplantation. Successful completion of a recent National Institutes of Health-sponsored Phase III multicenter clinical allogeneic islet transplantation trial confirmed the safety and efficacy of this therapeutic modality and will be used in the Biological Licensure Application by the United States Food and Drug Administration.


Implementation of novel immunosuppression, antiinflammatories, first-in-human stem cell and extrahepatic transplant site trials into clinical investigation has positioned β-cell replacement to become the mainstay treatment for all T1DM patients in the near future.

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