In the Hope of Living Insulin Free

Published: 24 Jan 2006

By Sylvia Miriyam Findlay, Research Analyst, Healthcare Europe

Diabetes is a growing epidemic and according to the World Health Organisation, it affects up to 150.0 million people worldwide and is estimated to reach 336.0 million by 2025. Till insulin was discovered diabetics had to live with the complications. The discovery of insulin around eighty years ago, gave new hope to the diabetics. It saved many lives. From then on, diabetics had to be administered with insulin injections daily to prevent complications and remain symptom free. Researchers are focusing on providing a permanent cure for this metabolic disorder.


The pancreas is located behind the stomach and is a small organ that releases enzymes and hormones for various functions. The pancreas has small islets of cells called as the ‘Islets of Langerhans’. There are about 2.0 million cells in an islet. About a million islets populate the pancreas. These cells secrete a hormone called insulin. It is this hormone that regulated the blood glucose level in the body. Deficiency or absence of this hormone results in a condition called diabetes.

Insulin was discovered in the year 1922 and commercially produced to save many lives affected with diabetes. Nearly eight decades have passed but the pain in taking insulin injections continue. So researchers are brain storming to provide a live free of injections for the diabetics. One such effort is the pancreatic islet cell transplantation.

Islet Cell Transplantation

A photomicrograph of individual human islets in cell culture isolated at Leicester.

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