Islet transplantation (IT) is today a well-established treatment modality for selected patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM). After the success of the University of Alberta group with a modified approach to the immune protection of islets, the international experience grew along with the numbers of transplants in highly specialized centers. Yet, long-term analysis of those initial results from the Edmonton group indicated that insulin-independence was not durable and most patients return to modest amounts of insulin around the fifth year, without recurrent hypoglycemia events. Many phenomena have been identified as limiting factor for the islet engraftment and survival, and today all efforts are aimed to improve the quality of islets and their engrafting process, as well as more optimized immunosuppression to facilitate tolerance and ultimately, better long term survival. This brief overview presents recent progress in IT. A concise historical perspective is provided, along with the latest efforts to improve islet engraftment, immune protection and ultimately, prolonged graft survival. It is apparent that as the community continues to work together further optimizing IT, it is hopeful a cure for T1DM will soon be achievable.
Keywords: Immunosuppression; Islet transplantation; Type 1 diabetes.