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New diabetes research will be presented at meeting in Benson site

BENSON -- Research on using pancreatic cells from pigs to cure type 1 diabetes will be presented at a meeting Monday at The Bowler in Benson.

The informational meeting is sponsored by the Benson Lions Club.

It starts at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public. An optional dinner, for $12.50 a person, will be served at 6:30 p.m.

Woody Dokken of Benson, diabetes chairman for the district Lions organization, said the district Lions recently decided to back the research initiative as one of their projects.

The project is a partnership between the nonprofit Spring Point Project and the University of Minnesota Diabetes Institute for Immunology and Transplantation. It involves the use of pancreas islet cells, taken from pigs produced at medical-grade facilities in the Midwest, and transplanting them into humans.

Early studies on diabetic monkeys have found that transplantation with islet cells from pigs can reverse insulin-dependent diabetes for at least six months.

The University of Minnesota is currently working on immunotherapy to prevent the rejection of transplanted pig cells. Clinical trials on transplanting the cells into humans are expected to start in 2009.

Spring Point Project has built and operates a bio-secure facility in Wisconsin to raise high-health pigs in compliance with government regulations.

Two officials with Spring Point Project will be the guest speakers at Monday's meeting in Benson. They are Dr. Henk-Jan Schuurman, CEO of Spring Point, and Tom Spizzo, director of operations.

Those wishing to attend the dinner are asked to RSVP to Woody Dokken at 843-3619 or