Closer to a Cure for Type 1 Diabetes
A cure for type 1 diabetes could be a step closer, thereby making daily insulin injections a thing of the past for patients. This breakthrough comes after scientists managed to halt the condition in mice for the 6 months of the study, thanks to the use of insulin-producing cells that had been generated from human stem cells. Experts from US hospitals and universities including Harvard, managed to transplant cells into mice, which immediately began producing insulin in response to blood glucose levels and were able to maintain levels within a healthy range for the duration of the study.
The problem previously had been that any implanted cells triggered the body’s own immune system and were rendered useless. But the scientists managed to coat the implanted cells with alginate gels thereby encapsulating them and avoiding attack or rejection by the body’s immune system.
Type 1 diabetes affects 400,000 people in the UK and arises when the immune system attacks the islet cells in the pancreas, destroying their ability to make insulin. The body needs insulin to control glucose or blood sugar. Patients with type 1 diabetes have to measure their glucose levels several times a day and inject themselves with insulin to stop it getting too high. It is difficult to achieve a precise control of glucose and, as well as being an inconvenience to daily life, can result in long term medical problems.
Sarah Johnson, UK director of policy and communication at JDRF, a type 1 diabetes charity that part funded the research, says: “It’s significant to see a study of this length return such promising results. If this study can be replicated in humans then one day we could potentially free people with type 1 diabetes from a life of insulin injections.”
Find out more about type 1 diabetes from the charity JDRF by clicking on the link below: