Baylor Researchers Take Step Forward in Diabetes Study

New NIH grant supports study to increase insulin-producing cells for transplant

Researchers at Baylor All Saints Medical Center are studying a solution they believe will improve the quantity and quality of isolated human pancreatic islet cells. The harvested cells can then be transplanted into the livers of patients with Type 1 diabetes, enabling them to produce their own insulin.

This week, the hospital received word that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Shinichi Matsumoto, M.D., Ph.D., a two-year grant to continue studying his ductal preservation method. The NIH, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, funds the highest caliber research and is the nation's leading medical research supporter.

Dr. Matsumoto is director of the islet cell laboratory at Baylor Research Institute (BRI), an affiliate of Baylor Health Care System. Baylor All Saints is the primary location for the research.

Preliminary data Dr. Matsumoto included in the grant application indicates that his method increases islet yield more than three times that previously achieved.

"Since we have an established clinical islet transplantation program at Baylor, the results from these experiments will be immediately applied in the clinical field," Dr. Matsumoto said. "We believe this research will overcome major challenges facing islet cell transplantation; thereby achieving a milestone in advancing islet transplantation from experimental treatment to standard therapy. This research may be an important next step toward a treatment for diabetes."

Islet cell transplantation has been shown to be a promising treatment and possible cure for Type 1, or juvenile onset diabetes, but major challenges remain. These challenges include a low success rate of islet isolation, the necessity for multiple donor organs and the difficulty of maintaining insulin-free status.

"If this approach is successful, we will obtain high quantity and quality of human islets, therefore resolving these major issues," Dr. Matsumoto said.

All Saints Health Foundation is conducting a capital campaign for the islet cell project. To date, more than $5.5 million has been raised toward the goal of $9.8 million to fund research operations and transform an existing medical building on the All Saints campus into a state-of-the-art lab facility.

The Centers for Disease Control ranks diabetes as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. In Texas, with its rapid population growth and ethnic diversity, an estimated 1.3 million people have been diagnosed with the disease while another 418,000 are believed to be undiagnosed.

About Baylor Scott & White Health
As the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Texas, Baylor Scott & White promotes the health and well-being of every individual, family and community it serves. It is committed to making quality care more accessible, convenient and affordable through its integrated delivery network, which includes the Baylor Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance and its leading digital health platform – MyBSWHealth. Through 51 hospitals and more than 1,100 access points, including flagship academic medical centers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Temple, the system offers the full continuum of care, from primary to award-winning specialty care. Founded as a Christian ministry of healing more than a century ago, Baylor Scott & White today serves more than three million Texans. For more information, visit: BSWHealth.com