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Research News: The Diabetes Cure


Dr. Bernhard Hering (photo) and a team of researchers from the Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation at the University of Minnesota are taking an innovative approach in the quest to cure diabetes. The University of Minnesota is well-known for its pancreas and islet cell transplant program, and in February 2005 Dr. Hering reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association the results of his program using only a single donor pancreas for each of his eight patients. All eight achieved insulin independence after transplantation. These results are unprecedented and indicate that the efficiency of islet transplants can be increased in selected patients to the point that results of whole pancreas transplantation are matched.

At a presentation at Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation offices in December 2005, Dr. Hering candidly informed us that, realistically, there is an insufficient amount of human islets available to treat the 20.8 million individuals afflicted with diabetes. It was then that Dr. Hering shared his vision for a cure of diabetes that could be tested in patients as early as 2008. He presented his innovative plan of raising a herd of pigs that will be an ongoing source of islet cells. Why, you may ask, would pig islets be a better choice than human islets? In his research, Dr. Hering has successfully transplanted pig islets into monkeys with diabetes and cured them. Dr. Hering, who is a world-renowned researcher, has put together a stellar team of researchers and experts to make his dream a reality.

Dr. Hering and his team have developed an innovative and promising plan. Through his efforts in Minnesota he was introduced to a group of farmers in South Dakota that raise about 40 percent of the pork used in the United States. Their technology and expertise made for a perfect match. Their facility design will meet the stringent guidelines enforced by the FDA in the use of animals for xenotransplantation. The team of researchers is expert in the field of genetic engineering, enabling the creation of a superior donor pig ideal for islet xenotransplantation; and the development of a biosecure environment – enabling the development of an environment that will allow for the raising of a disease-free pig line.

Dr. Hering’s goal is to:

  • Establish facilities to raise disease-free pigs with a high yield of islet cells
  • Genetically modify pig islets to minimize the need for immunosuppressive medications
  • Produce animals with sufficient islet supplies for Phase I, II and III clinical trials
  • Develop high-capacity production facilities for widespread distribution of porcine islet cells

DRWF is committed to finding a cure, and support of this type of innovative, out-of-the- box research will help us reach our goal sooner rather than later.

We wish Dr. Hering and his team well in their efforts and will keep our readers posted regarding their results.

If you would like more information about Dr. Hering’s research please email us at diabeteswellness@diabeteswellness.net and we will send you a packet.  Please send a tax deductible donation today.

Did you know that you can sign yourself up to receive a islet cell transplant?  Watch video of personal stories and find out more information:


The Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota Collaborate to Form

Decade of Discovery: A Minnesota Partnership to Defeat Diabetes

Building on the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic’s well-established strengths in diabetes research and treatment, the initiative will work to make transformational discoveries to defeat diabetes through research, broad penetration of best practices, treatment, intervention and prevention.

“Currently, one of every three Medicare dollars is spent on diabetes-related treatment in our country—with at least $2 billion spent here in Minnesota,” said Robert Rizza, MD; Executive Dean of Research at Mayo Clinic, endocrinologist and globally recognized diabetes researcher.  “When we look at the quality of life impact of diabetes combined with an annual price tag of $170 billion each year nationally, elevating and expediting Minnesota’s ability to tackle this disease is not only the right thing to do, it is a health and economic imperative,” states Rizza. 

World-renowned scientists and diabetes experts from the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota will lead the Decade of Discovery research teams.  “The demographic, health and economic challenges we face demand transformational approaches to how we treat and address diseases in our country,” said Frank Cerra, MD, senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center and Dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School. “Defeating diabetes is an ambitious goal, but failing to build on Minnesota’s existing strengths has far more risks than declaring our commitment to ultimately curing the disease. It’s time to be bold and this partnership is ready for the challenge,” notes Cerra.  

The Decade of Discovery will be guided by an Oversight Committee comprised of respected global, national and local leaders from medical research, business/bio-business, civic leadership, philanthropic interests, disease advocacy groups and other impacted communities.

“Minnesota is uniquely positioned to succeed in this initiative—in large part because of the partnership between Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota,” said Peter Agre, MD, Nobel laureate, Augsburg College; who will serve as co-chair on the Oversight Committee along with Vance Opperman, president and CEO of Key Investments, Inc. “With Mayo’s standing as the leading center of endocrinology research and the university’s significant investments in the science of regeneration, investing in Minnesota’s globally recognized expertise in diabetes is the key to reaching the ultimate goal of finding a cure to this disease,” noted Agre.

To learn more about the Decade of Discovery initiative, visit www.minnesotapartnership.info


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