New “Miracle” Surgery Used to Replace Pancreas and Cure Diabetes

A cure for diabetes that transplants cells from a damaged pancreas into the liver is successful, producing insulin for diabetic patient in U.S., claim Doctors.

December 15, 2009, Washington, D.C. – A revolutionary new surgery has been performed for the first time in the United States to replace a destroyed pancreas and successfully save a patient from a life of diabetes.

A 21 year old service member that was severely injured by gunfire in Afghanistan was the first person in the world to receive the radical new transplant developed at the University of Miami.

Airman Tre F. Porfirio, 21, of St. Mary’s, Georgia suffered from numerous injures, including a pancreas that was damaged beyond repair. Without a functioning pancreas, the soldier would have faced a lifetime of diabetes treatment, due to the inability to produce insulin naturally. Surgeons at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. worked with the University of Miami Medical School’s Diabetes Research Institute to extract healthy cells from what was left of his pancreas and transplant them directly into the liver. After three weeks, Doctors report that the Airman’s liver is successfully producing insulin on its own and that he has an excellent chance for a complete recovery.

The new procedure was originally developed in 1990 at the University of Miami by Dr. Camillo Ricordi, who developed the method for isolating cells from the pancreas as a last-resort for Type 1 diabetes patients who have no natural insulin production. This is the first time that the procedure has been used on the victim of a pancreas injury though.

“This could become an unlimited cure available for everyone,” Ricordi said.

“This could become an unlimited cure available for everyone,” Ricordi said. “The cells are lodged in his liver now, and they will develop their own new blood vessels there within weeks.” He also noted that the procedure could lead to more cases of transplanting cells from even a segment of a damaged pancreas. The procedure should allow those currently without the ability to produce insulin to live a life free of diabetes.

Dr. Ricordi performed the first clinical trials of islet-donor bone marrow cell infusions and more recently islet-donor CD34+ cell infusions with the objective to treat patients with Type 1 diabetes without the continuous requirement for anti-rejection drugs. His research objective is to develop a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

Airman Tre F. Porfirio, first to receive surgery to cure diabetes
Airman Tre F. Porfirio, first to receive surgery to cure diabetes
Dr. Camillo Ricordi of University of Miami who perfected procedure to cure diabetes
Dr. Camillo Ricordi of University of Miami who perfected procedure to cure diabetes

Links:

Dr. Camillo Ricordi of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami.

A Miami Herald story titled ” Wounded soldier’s diabetes is `cured’ with cells”, detailing the successful pancreas transplant that led to cure for diabetes.

Update: The American Diabetes Association published a small article on the issue at Airman ‘Cured’ of Diabetes Following Transplant. The article does not ad any new information. It mainly seems to be a re-write of the above article in The Miami Herald titled “Wounded soldier’s diabetes is `cured’ with cells”.