MAR 05, 2020 8:41 AM PST

Human Stem Cells Cure Type 1 Diabetes in Mice

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

In the US alone, around 187,000 children and adolescents have Type 1 diabetes, alongside 1.4 million people aged 20 and over. Managing their condition with insulin supplements, researchers have now found a way to convert human stem cells into beta cells that produce insulin. 

Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a faulty immune system response that leads to the immune system attacking and destroying insulin-producing beta cells located in the pancreas. Although earlier research has suggested that human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) may be able to treat the condition, until now, it was difficult to transform these cells into insulin-producing beta cells. 

The lead author of the study, Jeffrey R. Millman, said, “A common problem when you’re trying to transform a human stem cell into an insulin-producing beta cell - or a neuron or a heart cell - is that you also produce other cells that you don’t want...In the case of beta cells, we might get other types of pancreas cells or liver cells...The more off-target cells you get, the less therapeutically relevant cells you have.”

Thus, to bypass this issue, Millman and his team developed a new technique that works by targeting the cytoskeleton of hSPCs to guide their differentiation into pancreatic cells. In doing so, they were able to create fewer irrelevant cells and better functioning beta cells capable of regulating blood sugar levels. 

To test their new method, they transplanted small quantities of these beta cells into mice with Type 1 diabetes. In doing so, they found that the procedure “rapidly reversed severe preexisting diabetes in mice”, regulating their blood sugar levels for at least 9 months following the procedure. 

Millman said, “These mice had very severe diabetes with blood sugar readings of more than 500 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL)-  levels that could be fatal for a person - and when we gave the mice the insulin-secreting cells, within 2 weeks their blood glucose levels had returned to normal and stayed that way for many months.”

Although promising results, the researchers warn that the treatment is still some way off being able to help humans. Before clinical trials may begin, they first need to test their technique in larger animals, and then find a way to modulate the technique to produce the billions of cells required to cure the millions of people with Type 1 diabetes. 




Sources: Medical News Today, Science Alert and Futurism

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
NOV 18, 2020
Cancer
Could Targeting the Proteasome be Effective Against Cancer?
NOV 18, 2020
Could Targeting the Proteasome be Effective Against Cancer?
One of the trickiest things about anti-cancer drug design is targeting. Today, most drugs on the market target critical ...
DEC 21, 2020
Cancer
Examining the Bioactive Components of an Alga Against Cancer
DEC 21, 2020
Examining the Bioactive Components of an Alga Against Cancer
Many of today’s drugs come from vast libraries of synthetic compounds built by chemists for big pharma. This drug ...
DEC 09, 2020
Technology
AI Helps Drug Combination Therapy in Cancer
DEC 09, 2020
AI Helps Drug Combination Therapy in Cancer
Healthcare providers opt to multiple of therapies for cancer patients—often containing combo drugs. Research has s ...
JAN 13, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Could Rotten Egg Gas Reverse Alzheimer's?
JAN 13, 2021
Could Rotten Egg Gas Reverse Alzheimer's?
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten eggs, may prot ...
JAN 09, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
Potential Bronchodilator for COPD diseases
JAN 09, 2021
Potential Bronchodilator for COPD diseases
Although there is significant improvement in managing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diseases, ...
JAN 10, 2021
Drug Discovery & Development
New Treatment for Botulism
JAN 10, 2021
New Treatment for Botulism
Researchers discover a new way to reverse botulism which can often lead to paralysis. Botulism is caused by the most pot ...
Loading Comments...