CHICAGO (WBBM) – There’s a breakthrough to report in diabetes research.  A researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago will report later today that five years of clinical trials have resulted in what he calls a “functional cure” for Type 1 diabetes.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser Reports

Sandy Alvord of Des Plaines is one of the participants in the trial.

She’s had Type 1 diabetes since she was six years old. She’s 51 now and has been off insulin for a year and a half.

“Functionally I’m cured, to the point where I’m not taking any medication whatsoever for diabetes.”

It’s the first time she’s been able to do that since she was diagnosed as a child.

“Since I was a six-year-old and taking injections and having to follow a stringent diet.”

Alvord had what’s called islet transplantation. Basically, that involves the injection of human pancreas cells.

The islets of Langerhans are the regions of the pancreas that contain its hormone-producing cells. Insulin is a hormone. It is critical in regulating energy and glucose metabolism in the body.

Dr. Jose Oberholzer, at UIC, led the research. He’s cautious not to call this a cure. Instead, he calls it a “functional cure.” Alvord will have to continue taking an anti-rejection medicine.

“She’ll have to take them as long as the transplant works, hopefully for the rest of her life,” the physician told CBS 2’s Jim Williams.

Still, he says, the treatment might allow millions of Type 1 diabetics to discard insulin injections.

One hurdle, he says, is overcoming a shortage of transplantable cells.

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