Effect of glucagon-like peptide-1 on islet transplantation

More than two million Canadians and 135 million people worldwide have diabetes, a chronic medical condition characterized by a lack of insulin to regulate blood sugar levels (Type 1), or insensitivity to insulin (Type 2). Transplanting islets, the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, can cure Type 1 diabetes. But use of this therapy is limited because of the huge volume of islet tissue required to treat all Type 1 diabetics. As a result, most continue to rely on insulin injections to help control blood glucose. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) is produced in the intestine and has numerous anti-diabetic effects. Clinical trials are currently investigating GLP-1 as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes. Other recent studies show GLP-1 also enhances the growth of islet tissue. Rhonda Wideman is investigating the effects of GLP-1 on the growth and survival of transplanted islets to determine if GLP-1 reduces the amount of islets needed to cure Type 1 diabetes in transplant recipients. If so, more islet tissue could be produced and more patients could be treated with this procedure.