Diabetes is characterized by problems in the production or management of insulin, an emerging treatment for converting stem cells into hormone-producing cells,media reported. Now, scientists have developed a more effective way to implant these cells in diabetic mice that can effectively cure diabetes.
The study is based on past research by a team led by Jeffrey Millman of the University of Washington. Researchers have previously shown that injecting these cells into mice can treat diabetes, and now the new study has more impressive results.
The mice tested were known to have very severe diabetes, with blood sugar readings above 500 mg/dL, which can be fatal for a person.
Insulin is usually produced by beta cells in the pancreas, but for diabetics, these cells do not produce enough hormones. The usual solution to this situation is to inject insulin directly into the blood at the time required. But in recent years, researchers have found ways to convert human stem cells into beta cells that make up for cell deficiencies and produce more insulin.
In the new study, the team improved the technology. Typically, random errors occur when stem cells are converted into a specific type of cell, so other types of cells eventually mix together. Although these are harmless, they don’t really do the job at hand.
“The more cells you get that are off target, the fewer cells you have associated with treatment,” Millman says. You need about 1 billion cells to treat a diabetic. But if you make a quarter of the cells that are liver cells or other pancreatic cells, you need 1.25 billion cells instead of 1 billion. This makes it 25 per cent more difficult to cure the disease. “
The new approach focuses on reducing the production of unnecessary cells. By targeting cytoskeletons, the team not only produced a higher proportion of target cells, but also became more functional.
“It’s a completely different approach, and we deal with problems in a completely different way,” Millman said. Previously, we would identify proteins and factors and scatter them on the cells to see what happens. As we get a better understanding of signals, we’ve been able to make the process less random. “
When the researchers injected these new, improved cells into diabetic mice, their blood sugar levels stabilized and allowed the diabetes to be “functionally cured” for up to nine months.
Of course, it’s still an animal experiment, and such a treatment may not be applied to humans that fast. But the researchers plan to continue the research, which will take longer cell tests on larger animals in the hope that they will one day be ready for clinical trials in humans.