It is a simple theory: If damaged cells are replaceable, type 1 diabetics wouldn’t need insulin injections.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine and Harvard University have produced insulin-secreting cells from stem cells derived from patients with type 1 diabetes, a major step forward in the potential treatment of the disease.

Those with type 1 diabetes cannot make their own insulin and need regular insulin injections to maintain stable blood sugar levels. The recent research, however, suggests that the patient’s own stem cells
can manufacture new insulin-producing cells, thereby offering a personalized treatment for diabetes.

type 1 diabetes

The study showed that the new cells produced insulin when they encountered sugar both in culture and in mice.

‘In theory, if we could replace the damaged cells in these individuals with new pancreatic beta cells – whose primary function is to store and release insulin to control blood glucose – patients with type 1 diabetes wouldn’t need insulin shots anymore,’ says fi rst author Dr Jeffrey Millman, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University
School of Medicine.

Further research is required to make sure that the beta cells made from patient-derived stem cells don’t cause the development of tumors. Thereafter, for the purposes of human research, the cells could be implanted under the skin of diabetics (in a minimally invasive surgical procedure) to allow the beta cells access to a patient’s blood supply. You might like to read New Cancer Treatment with Vitamin A.


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