In a novel study researchers from University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada have successfully reversed diabetes in mice by using stem cell. For the first time, the mice study shows that human stem cell transplants may successfully restore insulin production and reverse diabetes.
The new research will pave the ways for breakthrough treatment for the ailment. Diabetes affects millions of people all over the world. People with diabetes must take regular blood tests to check their blood glucose levels. Due to insufficient production of insulin by the pancreas, people suffer Type 2 diabetes while, in Type 1 diabetes the pancreas do not produce any insulin.
Insulin allows glucose to be accumulated by the body’s muscle, fat and liver which are used as fuel. The shortage of insulin in the body leads to high blood sugar which increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, nerve damage and kidney failure. Regular intake of insulin jabs is the most frequent treatment for the condition.
The mice study in which researchers have been able to restore normal insulin-producing cells, was carried out by a team led by Timothy Kieffer, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Canada, along with researchers from the New Jersey-based BetaLogics, a division of Janssen Research & Development.
Subsequent to the stem cell transplant, the mice with diabetes were weaned off insulin, a process which is designed to imitate human clinical conditions. The mice were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, three to four months after the transplants, even when they were being fed large quantities of sugar.
Transplanted stem cells were removed from the mice after several months. Lead researcher Prof Kieffer, explained they are very thrilled by results of the study, but more research is required before this approach could be tested clinically in humans. They need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppressant.
The study findings were reported in the journal Diabetes.