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An Invisibility Cloak for Islet Cells
If you were to remove the necessary immune-suppressing medication, islet cell transplantation sure seems like a pretty cool proposition. After all, it has always been the anti-rejection medicine’s side-effects that have put the dark cloud and the large asterisk next to this so-called “cure.”
But what if the immune system couldn’t attack the cells because it simply couldn’t find them? What if the cells were completely off the grid? Hidden? Incognito?
This is the research being done by Norman Block, clinical director of endocrine polypeptide and cancer institute at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Miami.
Block and his international research team have developed a special chamber-like device to hide transplanted islet cells from the watchful eyes of the immune system. The study involved islet cell transplantation of a 63-year-old man with type 1 diabetes.
Since I have a difficult time understanding things, I like to imagine the islet cells sticking tight along the walls of the pancreas like a cat burglar, wearing a Harry Potteresque cloak of invisibility; keeping very still and very quiet while immune system patrols the area just inches away. The slightest sneeze and the jig is up.
“You hear something?” one immune system prefect says to another.
“Uh uh,” the other says. “C’mon! Let’s go. They’re serving pudding in the Great Hall!”
I’m pretty sure it looks exactly like that under the microscope.
I like this research. It’s very exciting. Being a longtime contributor to JDRF, I also like that they have some of their eggs in this basket.
My only question is this:
Can the islet cells really stay in hiding forever?
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)