Living Cure; June 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Philip E. Ross; 3 Page(s)
In the past year researchers have brought within reach a long-sought therapy for diabetes: an artificial pancreas. Such a device would secrete insulin in precise relation to the level of glucose in the blood, improving the management of the disease and the comfort of the patient. For years, no one could make the therapy work in animals larger than rodents, but now two groups have demonstrated its efficacy in diabetic dogs. Human clinical trials could begin as early as this summer.
The first encouraging results were published last summer by investigators at BioHybrid Technologies in Shrewsbury, Mass. That team announced in Science that they had weaned diabetic dogs from insulin injections for several months by implanting islets of Langerhans, warding off rejection with a semipermeable membrane. Now a group at the Islet Transplant Center, part of the Veterans Administration Wadsworth Medical Center in Los Angeles, will soon report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that it may have beaten BioHybrid to the punch with a similar technique. "I have dogs going two years without additional transplants," says Patrick Soon-Shiong of the Wadsworth group.