Camillo Ricordi, MD, and fellow scientists from the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), are pioneers of an experimental cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes patients called islet transplantation. While the infusion procedure itself is considered to be relatively simple, the process for isolating the insulin-producing cells can be complex. It requires that a pancreas from an organ donor be sent to a specialized lab where it is disassembled using enzymatic digestion. Dr. Ricordi is the inventor of the Ricordi Chamber, the device that separates the insulin-producing cells from the pancreas used by scientists around the world working in islet cell transplantation.
The cells are then purified so they can be injected into the liver of a patient, where they help supplement or replace the functioning of the pancreas, possibly even eliminating the need for daily insulin injections. Although the liver has its advantages, the environment has proven less than optimal. Phase I/II clinical trials are underway to test a new site in the body and the first patient underwent the procedure in August of 2015. (University of Miami)
Click here to learn more about the clinical trials being conducted for this possible new treatment.