Scientists Closer Than Ever to Stem Cell Diabetes Cure

Individuals with type one diabetes have long wished for a cure for their disease, and science is coming closer and closer every day. Type one diabetes involves a lifetime of possible health complications, including heart disease and nerve damage, and even when well-managed requires patients to manage their blood sugar via injections, which means continual purchases of Easytouch insulin syringes, or insulin pump supplies, or insulin pen needles, along with other supplies for diabetes such as freestyle lancets and accu chek test strips. With a new innovation, scientists think that they are one step closer to curing diabetes with stem cells.


Researchers in California report that they have reversed the equivalent of type one diabetes in mice with the use of stem cells, according to a recent study. The experiments conducted by the scientists replaced cells in the pancreas that had been damaged and were unable to make insulin. Of course, once the idea of stem cell therapy became open ground for experimentation, scientists have been interested in using the new technology to provide a potential cure for those facing the lifelong illness of type one diabetes.


Until the recent experiment, however, this has proven difficult—as mature islet cells, the ones responsible for insulin in the pancreas, do not easily regenerate. Which has meant that in spite of the research devoted to the potential cure, many more patients have started the lifelong struggle of managing the disease, taking insulin medicine via a variety of insulin pump supplies, insulin pen needles, or products like easytouch insulin syringes, as well as monitoring their blood glucose levels with supplies for diabetes like accu chek test strips and freestyle lancets.


The team involved in the study in California published their results in the journal Cell Stem Cell, describing how they took a step back from the traditional approach. They collected skin cells, called fibroblasts, from laboratory mice, and treated them with a unique “cocktail” of molecules and reprogramming factors to transform the cells into endoderm-like cells. These are the type of cell found in the early embryo, which eventually mature into the body’s major organs—such as the pancreas. The team then used another chemical cocktail to induce the cells to develop into pancreas-like cells, which they then injected into mice that had been genetically modified to mimic the symptoms of type 1 diabetes.


One week post-transplant the mice’s glucose levels began to decrease, and within eight weeks after the transplantation, the scientists found that the pancreas-like cells had turned into fully functional insulin-secreting islet cells. The team is looking forward to developing the research further for possible human use, which could be a cure for many diabetics who currently rely on insulin medications from easytouch insulin syringes, insulin pen needles, or insulin pump supplies to manage their blood sugar—and products such as freestyle lancets and accu chek test strips to monitor their levels. With replaced islet cells, those diabetics could, potentially, go on to live “normal” lives free of the disease.


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