The process of transplanting human islet cells from a donor in order to reverse diabetes and achieve normoglycemia (normal blood glucose levels) is not new.
Human-to-human islet transplantation resulting in long-term reversal of diabetes was performed at the University of Pittsburgh in 1990. Yet, despite continued procedural improvements, only about 10% of islet recipients in the late 1990s achieved normoglycemia.
Since the medical community adopted the Edmonton Protocol for islet transplantation in 2000, performance has greatly improved and patients are frequently reported to achieve normoglycemia.
However, the Edmonton protocol and other protocols call for the use of fairly large amounts of islet cells and life-long use of immunosuppressive drugs.
Notably, long-term use of immunosuppressive drugs is associated with a variety of complications and should be avoided, if possible.
Therefore human-to-human islet transplantation has not been widely adopted, and only limited amount of procedures have been performed globally.