From Texas, USA:
I recently read an article about a possible breakthrough in treating diabetes. University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester have discovered a way to fool a mouse's immune system into accepting transplants of pancreatic islet cells which produce insulin. These new findings suggest that in mice, the immune system can be lulled into accepting donor cells if the animals are given injections of white blood cells from the future donor, combined with shots of antibodies, for seven weeks before the transplant. Of 40 mice treated this way, 37 accepted the pancreatic donor cells without needing antirejection drugs that dangerously suppress the immune system in order to stop it form destroying the donor cells. The mice that didn't receive the immune-system preparation rejected the donor cells. This is very encouraging, but how long before studies begin on humans?
I think that the writer is referring to studies by Aldo Rossini and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts. They have superb success with mice as quoted in the question, but work with humans is not yet around the corner. As with all such science, the work must be replicated by other researchers to be confirmed and then perhaps tried in other species before experiments in humans can proceed. The approach has been around for many years however. Dr Rossini and his co-workers are doing excellent studies and their other work can be found in many journals over the past twenty years to lead them to this point.
Original posting 17 Jun 97
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