Title

Pig cells provide hope for type 1 diabetes

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

05-04-2010 08:26 AM

Source

ABC Canberra 666

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

ABC Canberra 666

Start

05-04-2010 08:26 AM

Abstract

 
End

05-04-2010 09:01 AM

Cover date

2010-04-05 08:26:30

Citation Id

323387

Enrichment

 
Reporter

EASTLEY, Tony

Speaker

GLANVILLE, Brigid

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/323387

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Pig cells provide hope for type 1 diabetes -

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There's renewed hope that there may be a cure for type 1 diabetes after success in human trials
involving pig cells. In New Zealand and Europe more than a dozen humans have had pigs cells
transplanted into their body to control diabetes. So far two patients have been able to stop using
insulin altogether. The trial is now being considered in Australia.

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TONY EASTLEY: There's renewed hope that there may be a cure for Type 1diabetes after success in
human trials involving pig cells. In New Zealand and Europe more than a dozen humans have had pigs
cells transplanted into their bodies to control diabetes. So far two patients have been able to
stop using insulin altogether and the trial is now being considered in Australia.

Brigid Glanville reports from Auckland.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Fifty-four-year-old Michael Helyer has had type 1 diabetes since he was a child.
Fourteen years ago he was the first man in the world to have pig cells transplanted into his
pancreas. The cells were designed to mimic the body's natural production of insulin.

MICHAEL HELYER: At its best, peak performance, my cells were producing 30 per cent of my
requirement. Now what that means is that if you can reduce your insulin dose by 30 per cent, your
chances of having a terrible low blood sugar episode are much diminished.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: The cells continued to work inside Michael Helyer's body for nine years. As the
first human to be trialled the number of cells transplanted was very small. But some of the more
recent transplant patients have been able to stop using insulin altogether.

Professor Bob Elliott is a researcher with Living Cell Technologies.

BOB ELLIOTT: We transplanted some of those patients up to three times without any problems. Rather
to our delight we got more success in terms of efficacy than we expected. In fact a couple of
people came off, out of the eight that we did, a couple came off insulin for varying periods of
time up to many, many months.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: Type 1 diabetes effect 30 million people worldwide. Professor Bob Elliott and his
team of researchers hopes this could be a cure.

BOB ELLIOTT: What we're more interested in sort of as a shorter-term objective is to improve
diabetes control.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: There has been concern though that this treatment could result in the
transmission of a particular virus from pigs to humans. It caused Australian authorities to place a
ban on pig cell transplants. But that ban has now been lifted.

Professor Bob Elliott explains why.

BOB ELLIOTT: The pigs used must be free of any disease which is capable of being transmitted to
man. By good fortune we lit upon a herd of pigs that had been abandoned in a sub-Antarctic island
some 200 years ago and in that 200 years they have lost any form of infection capable of being
transmitted to man.

So the pigs we used are derived from those, they're not currently housed in that island, they're
housed in a very special containment facility which keeps that nice pristine, infection-free,
bug-free status.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: With no moratorium in place, Living Cell Technologies hopes to conduct more human
trials in Australia by the end of the year.

This is Brigid Glanville in Auckland reporting for AM.