Researchers Keep Diabetic Monkeys Alive for 70 Days Using Pancreatic Cells from Pigs

A University of Minnesota researcher presented the results of his successful xenotransplant of islet cells from pigs into monkeys at the American Transplant Congress in June.

In research sponsored by Immerge BioTherapeutics, Dr. Bernhard Hering transplanted pancreatic tissue from pigs into monkeys who were not capable of producing their own insulin. Drugs were used to prevent the monkeys’ immune systems from rejecting the pig cells.

That is not news — cross-species transplanting of islet cells has been performed before. What was new was that as of June the monkeys in Dr. Hering’s experiment had kept producing insulin from the pig islet cells for more than 70 days,

We have been able to reverse diabetes in past islet studies, but we had only seen two or three-week survival times before the graft was lost due to the overwhelming rejection response. The survival times we are reporting on today should only increase as we further optimize the immunosuppressive regimes.

Which, of course, gets us one step closer to the possibility of one day transplanting non-human islet cells into human beings to treat diabetes.


Pig-to-monkey transplants may herald cure for diabetes. Steve Connor, The Independent (London), June 4, 2003.

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