Diabetes: Is A Cure On The Horizon?

Islet cell transplants look promising, but huge obstacles remain

Six rhesus monkeys playing with their toys at the University of Miami are the great hairy hopes of diabetes. In a major advance announced in June, the monkeys were essentially cured of the disease after receiving transplants of islet cells, the insulin-producing components of the pancreas. The key was an experimental antirejection drug called anti-CD154. This bioengineered antibody, made by Biogen Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., is far less toxic than immunosuppressants taken for other types of organ transplants. A year after the transplant, the monkeys no longer needed insulin injections or the antirejection drug.

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