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Endocrine System

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The article, "Pancreas Transplant: A Cure for Diabetes?" written by Eli A. Friedman, M.D., explores the possibility of a cure for type 1 diabetes and the implications involving this experimental procedure. The article discusses current procedures and treatments that are commonly used to control type 1 diabetes and highlights provisional treatments that evolved into pancreatic transplant surgery.

The editorial explains that diabetes mellitus is the leading cause of irreversible renal failure, known more commonly as End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Diabetes mellitus can cause nerve, vascular and other problems that can result in limb amputation and blindness. There are two types of diabetes: long-duration, non-insulin dependent (type 2) and insulin-dependent (type 1). Type 1 seems to attract the most attention from Physicians and the media. Many of those that suffer from type 1 are children and young adults.

Dr. Friedman underlines some of the most common existing treatments for type 1 diabetes. Insulin is used to correct the imbalances in blood sugar and patients are required to reduce the amount of dietary protein they consume. This type of treatment focuses on slowing the possibility of developing kidney disease and retinopathy. For many diabetics, the time will come when their damaged kidneys are no longer sufficiently cleaning the blood and they must begin dialysis. When a diabetic reaches the ESRD stage, the likely option is kidney transplant. Dr. Friedman adds that a kidney transplant will not solve the problem and the disease will eventually progress without a pancreas transplant.

The article stipulates that diabetes involves the pancreas as well as the kidney. The pancreas produces insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose. When the pancreas malfunctions, diabetes can result. The idea behind kidney/pancreas transplant is to replace the kidneys damaged by diabetes and to eliminate abnormal insulin production by providing a new healthy pancreas.

Dr. Friedman states that successful pancreas transplant means freedom from the daily burden of balancing a diet, mandatory exercise and insulin injections. This article is an extraordinary look into the progress science is making in kidney/pancreas transplant and how this procedure may one day cure diabetes. Hopefully, with refinement in the application of this type of procedure we can move closer to a cure.



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