At last , University of B. C. scientists used human embryonic stem cell transplants in order to reverse Type 1 diabetes in mice, giving hope to millions of people worldwide who have the chronic disease.
A team of 13 scientists, whose work is released in the journal Diabetes, shows that after transplantation, the stem cells matured into insulin secreting, pancreatic betacells.
The cells instantly sensed blood sugar amounts to release the right amount of insulin and a few dozen diabetic mice were gradually weaned off insulin given to them over a period of months. Insulin is produced by betacell to help the body absorb sugar and use it for energy.
“Basically, the mice were cured of their diabetes by placing the body back in charge of controlled insulin production as it is in healthy, non-diabetics,” said lead author Timothy Kieffer.
“It took about 4 – 5 months for the stem cells to become efficient in our tests while the mice were able to maintain good blood glucose amounts even when fed a high-glucose diet,” said Kieffer, a UBC professor in the department of cellular and physiological sciences.
Type One diabetes – or else known as juvenile diabetes – is an autoimmune disease in which a patient’s immune system kills off insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. About Ten per cent of diabetics are Type 1 and typically, they must inject themselves with insulin or use pumps to control their blood glucose levels.