Yesterday (Oct. 7, 2009) in New Zealand, Living Cell Technologies announced a successful first transplant of DIABECELL, an implant made of encapsulated pig islet cells that produces insulin. It was implanted through a laparoscopic procedure into the abdomen of a 47 year old man who has had type 1 diabetes for 20 years. The Aukland trial is being conducted by Dr John Baker, principal investigator and diabetes specialist based at Middlemore Hospital.
A couple definitions that may be helpful: The process of encapsulation protects the insulin producing cells of the implant from attack by the body's immune defense system and prevents rejection. The DIABECELL procedure is called "xenotransplantation" because the insulin producing cells come from pigs (porcine) not humans.
Stay tuned- in six months, the results of the procedure will be published. Hopefully, the patient will be diabetes free and not have the rejection complications associated with transplantation.
Details of the trial are available at www.ClinicalTrials.gov. You can download the PR release from the Living Cell Technologies website.