Japan is to carry out its first pancreatic islets transplantation in five years for a patient with type 1 diabetes, it has been revealed.
The Japanese Pancreas and Islet Transplantation Association (JPITA) has announced that the infusion of pancreatic islets will start again next month after a break of five years. The pancreatic islets, which produce insulin, will be taken from a patient that has died from cardiopulmonary arrest, and can only be taken if the family of the dead patient provides consent.
The transplantation of pancreatic islets is intended to help people suffering from advanced type 1 diabetes, which can result in hypoglycaemic shock, and is undertaken by infusing islets into the liver of the recipient. The process has become more common as it is less difficult than transplanting the pancreas itself, which requires powerful immunosuppressive drugs post-surgery, and it allows the diabetic to stop having to carry out daily insulin injections to lower their blood sugar levels.
Japan’s use of this therapy was suspended in 2007 due to some material taken from the brains of cattle being involved in making an enzyme to separate pancreatic islets from other pancreatic tissue, which it was feared would result in variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. However, the new approach does not depend on material taken from animals.

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