Wendy Peacock, a woman who has had Type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years, has been able to stop taking her insulin after receiving an islet cell transplant on Aug. 18 at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida.
The clinical trial was performed by the Diabetes Research Institute at UHealth — the University of Miami Health System.
“To think I can go to sleep at night and not worry that my blood sugar is going to drop it’s almost like a weight has been lifted," Peacock told reporters on Sept. 9, notes the Miami Herald.
Type 1 diabetes causes the body to eradicate islet cells, which make insulin in the pancreas. The body needs insulin to regulate blood sugar. That's why people with Type 1 diabetes usually have to inject insulin several times a day, or use a continuous pump, and check their blood glucose levels daily.
Peacock received a transplant of islet cells that were inside a biodegradable scaffold that was placed on the lining of her abdominal organs, reports the Miami Herald.
Doctors are aiming to develop the DRI BioHub, a mini-organ that is bioengineered to act like the pancreas and produce natural insulin for those with Type 1 diabetes.
In addition to being free from insulin shots, Peacock doesn't have any restrictions on her diet like she used to, but has to take drugs to stop her body from rejecting the transplanted islet cells that came from a donor.
“She is like a nondiabetic person, but requires anti-rejection drugs,” Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the Diabetes Research Institute, stated. “When you can do it without anti-suppression, then it’s a cure.”
Ricordi told the Miami Herald in November 2014 that there would be cure for Type 1 diabetes in the next three to seven years:
"It’s not a prediction — it’s a promise that I make to patients. We will defeat this disease for sure.
"Depending on how many obstacles we hit, and regulatory complexities and cost, it could take more than 10 years, depending, but we’re getting there."
Islet cell transplantation for Type 1 diabetes has been done before, but in different ways. Two patients of Emory University's hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, celebrated 10 years of being without insulin injections in 2014.