Global Health & Medicine 2020;2(4):200-211.
Pancreatic islet transplantation: toward definitive treatment for diabetes mellitus
Takaki T, Shimoda M
Since the late 20th century, advances in pancreatic islet transplantation have targeted improved glycemic control and fewer hypoglycemic events in patients with type 1 diabetes, and some important milestones have been reached. Following the Edmonton group's success in achieving insulin independence in all transplanted patients with type 1 diabetes, clinical islet transplantation is now performed worldwide. β cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes was established based on the favorable outcomes of a phase 3, prospective, open-label, single-arm, clinical study conducted at 8 centers in North America, in which 42 of 48 patients who underwent islet transplantation from 2008 to 2011 achieved HbA1c < 7.0% (53 mmol/mol) at day 365, which was maintained at 2 years in 34 patients. In Japan, a phase 2 multicenter clinical trial of islet transplantation for type 1 diabetes patients is currently ongoing and will end soon, but the interim results have already led to positive changes, with allogeneic islet transplantation being covered by the national health insurance system since April 2020. Current efforts are being made to solve the problem of donor shortage by studying alternative donor sources, such as porcine islets and pancreatic progenitor cells derived from pluripotent stem cells. The results of clinical trials in this area are eagerly awaited. It is hoped that they will contribute to establishing alternative sources for insulin-producing β cells in the near future.