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University of Iowa News Release


May 5, 2008

UI part of multicenter islet transplantation study

The University of Iowa is serving as the data-coordinating center for a multicenter, National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study that is testing new approaches to islet transplantation in adults with type 1 diabetes.

The Clinical Trials Statistical and Data Management Center (CTSDMC), based in the UI College of Public Health's Department of Biostatistics, coordinates and manages data from the Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium, comprised of the UI and 11 medical centers in the United States, Canada, Sweden and Norway.

According to William Clarke, Ph.D., UI professor of biostatistics and director of the CTSDMC, "It has been an exciting and rewarding opportunity for the University of Iowa to be involved with world-renowned scientists from North America and Europe and to assist in the coordination of such cutting-edge research."

The consortium's studies are focused on improving the safety and long-term success of transplanting islets, the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, in people whose own islets have been destroyed by type 1 diabetes.

Islet transplantation -- still considered an experimental procedure and not an approved treatment -- involves extracting the insulin-producing cells from a donor pancreas and infusing them into a vein in a recipient's liver. If the transplant is successful, the islets become embedded in the liver and begin producing insulin.

For patients with type 1 diabetes, treatment has traditionally involved insulin shots or an insulin pump to help maintain blood glucose levels. Most people with type 1 diabetes, however, still have blood glucose levels above normal, putting them at risk for long-term complications. Some people also experience episodes of low blood glucose (known as hypoglycemia) from the insulin shots and develop an unawareness of low blood glucose symptoms, which is potentially very dangerous.

The potential advantage of islet transplantation over insulin by an injection or pump is that the transplanted islets would produce insulin to maintain normal blood sugar and allow the recipient to decrease or discontinue insulin shots. Additionally, there may be improvement for people with unawareness of low blood sugar symptoms with less frequent severe events.

The Clinical Islet Transplantation Consortium is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), both part of the NIH. More information about the consortium is available at

NOTE TO EDITORS: A news release from NIH with more information is available at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACTS: David Pedersen, 319-335-8032,; Dan McMillan, UI College of Public Health, 319-335-6835,