Scientists have been able to for the first time transformed human stem cells in a lab dish. This has enabled them to move a step closer to a major treatment which might be able to cure type 1 diabetes.
According to UCSF, the key was to acknowledge reality in the development of islets, or clusters of healthy beta cells (which generate insulin) in the pancreas. The scientist was able to partially differentiate pancreatic stem cells into islets, jumpstarting their development and leading to responses to blood sugar that more closely represented mature cells. They were also able to grow the alpha and delta cells effectively.
Matthias Hebrok, Ph.D., the Hurlbut-Johnson Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Research at UCSF and director of the UCSF Diabetes Center said – “We can now generate insulin-producing cells that look and act a lot like the pancreatic beta cells you and I have in our bodies. This is a critical step towards our goal of creating cells that could be transplanted into patients with diabetes.”
Test have already been conducted on mice and the results have been positive. The tests proved successful in a matter of days as the implanted islets were able to produce insulin along with the rodents native cells.
It is a bit early to predict that the research will achieve the desired results to provide a realistic solution for type 1 diabetes. Though the pancreas transplants can be helpful since the fail frequently will still need drugs to suppress the immune system.
The tests have been carried out safely on targeted islet implants which still require organs from dead donors. This breakthrough will possibly cater to on-demand implants and make it relatively easy to gain or rebuild healthy insulin levels.
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