Medical scientists have made a major breakthrough in treating type 1 diabetes by devising a way to create insulin-producing cells for patients.
Type 1 patients don’t have these cells so a team from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is turning stem cells into mature insulin cells that just might cure this type of diabetes once and for all. They did so by developing islets or clusters in healthy beta cells in the pancreas, these cells are responsible for generating insulin.
The scientists used partly differentiated stem cells to get the results by separating them into islets so that they generate blood sugar, quite the same way as a mature cell, but much faster. Doing so, the cells were able to catalyze their development process to produce insulin.
Not Tested on Humans Yet
While the technique works, it has only been tested in mice for now. According to the UCSF, the rodents were able to produce mature cells quicker and responded well to the separation procedure. Only in a “matter of days”, the cells were able to produce as much insulin as their mature counterparts.
There are still some ways to suppress type 1 diabetes but this technique, if it proves useful, could make significant changes in how patients with this ailment are dealt with. Right now, doctors can go for a pancreatic transplant but it still needs lots of suppressants to control the immune system, so as to maintain a steady generation of insulin. Such transplants require organ donations, and more than often result in failures.
The new technique could make it much easier for the patients to regain insulin, while also giving better prospective results.