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Fat chance for pancreatic cell transplants

Fat chance for pancreatic cell transplants
28th August 2007

Dietary restriction could be used to make pancreatic cell transplants more effective, new research suggests.

Scientists from the University of Texas found that pancreatic islet cells transplanted into the liver fail not only because of immune rejection, but also because of overexposure to toxic fats.

These fats are synthesized by the surrounding liver cells and overwhelm the pancreatic transplants.

A few hundred people have received transplants of pancreatic cells, called islets. The insulin upon implantation in the liver, but over months or years their production often declines.

Senior author Dr Roger Unger said: "By understanding how fat affects these cells, maybe we can improve islet transplant and make it last a bit longer."

He added: "This seems very easy to prevent, but it’s not being targeted by researchers."

Dr Unger said the study could also serve as a model for death of beta cells in type 2 diabetes; their findings appear in the September issue of the journal Diabetes.