Report filed by Suzanne Boyd, CBS 21 News.
Researchers in South Florida are taking a huge leap in finding a cure for Diabetes. They're unveiling a new bio-engineered organ that might be the key to getting people off of insulin.
Scientists are not releasing the information until next month, but we have an exclusive interview with the doctor behind the project.
The building may look like any doctor's office. But what is happening at a building at the University of Miami is nothing short of a medical breakthrough..
Dr. Camillo Ricordi, is on the verge of curing Diabetes. He's already given patients like Antonella Soliani their lives back. "For me, he is God."
Soliani, who is from Italy, has been monitoring her blood sugar levels and injecting herself with insulin since she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 14. But now, she is free. "Are you still on insulin? No. I don't use insulin."
Soliani is one of a select group of people who underwent a clinical trial at the Diabetes Research Institute in Miami. Doctors injected insulin-producing islet cells from a donor organ into Soliani's liver. She is no longer insulin dependent.
But the problem with implanting these islet cells into the liver is that patients have to be on anti-rejection drugs and that's not really a cure. But the next phase of the project would create a mini organ that would replace the patient's pancreas.
Dr. Ricordi says this is a step in the direction of a cure. "It's a treatment for diabetes now, but it will be a cure when we can do it without anti-rejection drugs."
Ricordi started started this nearly 25 years ago, when he developed a chamber to extract and purify those special insulin-producing islet cells.
Now, almost three decades later, he's starting these new clinical trials and he believes a cure is within reach. "I didn't think it would take so long."
But for Antonella, the wait it over. She may not be cured of her diabetes, but she says she is free of it. "Free. You feel free? Yes, I feel free!"