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
University College London
Annie Lennon is a writer whose work also appears in Medical News Today, Psych Central, Psychology Today, and other outlets. When she's not writing, she is COO of Xeurix, an HR startup that assesses jobfit from gamified workplace simulations.
You May Also Like
JUN 04, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
3g of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Daily May Lower Blood Pressure
JUN 04, 2022
3g of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Daily May Lower Blood Pressure
Around 3g of omega-3 fatty acids taken on a daily basis may be the optimal dose for lowering blood pressure. The corresp ...
JUL 05, 2022
Immunology
A New Type of Universal Flu Vaccine
JUL 05, 2022
A New Type of Universal Flu Vaccine
Researchers have created a new 'universal' flu vaccine, which is directed against type A influenza viruses. It w ...
AUG 16, 2022
Cannabis Sciences
Do Cannabis Users Have More Sinonasal Symptoms?
AUG 16, 2022
Do Cannabis Users Have More Sinonasal Symptoms?
A study examined the association between cannabis use and sinonasal symptoms and found an association between higher fre ...
AUG 16, 2022
Immunology
Two Studies Describe Powerful Antibodies That Neutralize SARS-CoV-2
AUG 16, 2022
Two Studies Describe Powerful Antibodies That Neutralize SARS-CoV-2
SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, has mutated many times into new variants, some that we don't hear about, while others ...
AUG 16, 2022
Drug Discovery & Development
Blood Pressure Drug Shows Promise for Treating ALS
AUG 16, 2022
Blood Pressure Drug Shows Promise for Treating ALS
Terazosin, a drug currently approved to treat high blood pressure and enlarged prostate, may also be able to treat ALS. ...
AUG 16, 2022
Neuroscience
Phone Therapy Shows Promise for Treating Tinnitus
AUG 16, 2022
Phone Therapy Shows Promise for Treating Tinnitus
 A phone-based therapy has shown encouraging results in treating tinnitus in a recent clinical trial. The correspon ...
Loading Comments...