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​​​​​​​​​Islet Cell Transplantation is giving people with Chronic Pancreatitis the possibility for new hope. We are the first center in Texas to gain FDA permission to process pancreatic islet cells for transplantation, and we're the first hospital in the Southwest to perform Islet Cell Transplantation from our own lab for Type 1 Diabetes patients and Chronic Pancreatitis patients. Baylor is one of the few medical centers in the world to offer this procedure.

Pancreatitis can be acute or chronic, and, in either case, it is inflammation of the pancreas. While Acute Pancreatitis occurs suddenly and usually resolves with treatment in a few days, Chronic Pancreatitis does not resolve and usually gets worse over time, leading to permanent damage. Some causes can include the use of alcohol, heredity, cystic fibrosis, high levels of calcium or fat in the blood, autoimmune conditions, some medicines and other unknown factors.

Auto Islet Cells Transplantation is an innovative treatment for carefully selected patients in pain from Chronic Pancreatitis. After undergoing complete removal of the pancreas​ and spleen, patients receive a transplant from their own islets, which include the cells that produce insulin.

Patients who have undergone Islet Cell Transplant have been able to achieve much or all of the pain they experienced with Chronic Pancreatitis and through the injection of islet cells, have avoided the diagnosis of diabetes. At Baylor, we actively perform Islet Cell Transplants, in an effort to achieve across-the-board blood sugar control improvement.

Allogeneic Islet Cell Transplant Research

For more information or to refer a patient to the Islet Transplantation Program, call (214) 820-1756.

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​​Ernest Beecherl, MD, Surgical Director

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Baylor Dallas was the first center in Texas to receive FDA permission to independently process Pancreatic Islet Cells for transplantation – another milestone for Baylor's long list of firsts and a potential treatment for patients with Type 1 Diabetes and Chronic Pancreatitis.

Islet (pronounced "eye-let") of Langerhans cells, or "islets" for short, are specialized cells located in the pancreas. These cells are responsible for making insulin and controlling the body's blood sugar levels.

Type 1 diabetics do not have islet cells that work; therefore, they are completely dependent on insulin. Research at Baylor is underway to determine if Auto Islet Cell Transplantation can allow them to be less dependent on insulin or ideally insulin free.

Chronic Pancreatitis patients usually have islet cells that work; however, due to their long-term disease, they can be at risk of losing their islet function. In addition, these patients usually live with severe chronic pain and experience frequent hospitalizations. An Auto Islet Cell Transplant is an innovative way to prevent diabetes but at the same time treat the pain caused by this devastating disease.

Chronic Pancreatitis

Allogeneic Islet Cell Transplant Research

For more information or to refer a patient to the Islet Transplantation Program, call (214) 820-1756 .

Autologous Islet Cell Transplantation

Patients who have long-term Chronic Pancreatitis experience severe pain. When all other therapeutic options have been exhausted, a total Pancreatectomy may be recommended. This procedure relieves pain, but the patient is left with brittle diabetes.

Through the Baylor FDA-approved Pancreatic Islet Cell Processing Laboratory, a patient may receive an auto-transplant of his or her own islet cells, a procedure that is not considered experimental. After surgical removal, the pancreas is taken to the lab where islet cells are extracted from the malfunctioning organ. These cells are then re-infused into the patient where they are taken up into the liver for possible insulin production.

Approximately 40 percent of Auto Islet Transplant patients do not need to use insulin once the islet cells start working from their new location in the liver. Research at Baylor reveals other Auto Islet Transplant patients may still need to use some insulin to control their blood sugar levels; however, it is usually a reduced amount. Patients report substantial pain relief and reduction or total elimination of narcotics. Patients do not have to take immunosuppressant drugs like most transplant recipients because their body is receiving its own islets (autologous) and not those from a donor.

Auto Islet Cell Transplant Evaluation

Your Multidisciplinary Transplant Team

Frequently Asked Questions

Symptoms of Chronic Pancreatitis

When the pancreas is not working well, common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal pain - Ongoing pain is a serious consequence of chronic pancreatitis. many patients are dependent on narcotics and have a decreased quality of life.
  • Nausea/Vomiting - Eating and drinking can make the pain of pancreatitis worse and often result in nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea - Inability to breakdown foods properly and poor eating/drinking habits may result in diarrhea and dehydration.
  • Weight Loss - Caused by poor nutrition and inability of the pancreas to secrete sufficient enzymes to digest food.
  • Oily Stools - Excess fat is secreted in stools due to the inability to digest foods properly and lack of sufficient digestive enzymes.

About Islet Cell Transplants

Allogeneic Islet Cell Transplant Research

For more information or to refer a patient to the islet transplantation program, call (214) 820-1756.