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Did Scientists Cure Type-1 Diabetes?

A team of researchers developed new protocols for generating human stem cells to allow the body to heal damage caused by diabetes in mice.

Could a type-1 diabetes have a cure on the way? A new study featured in Nature Biotechnology showcases findings that are causing a stir in the diabetes community and beyond. 

Researchers looked to examine human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) in more depth to analyze cell replacement therapy as a treatment for diabetes. Past studies have featured hPSCs and showed promise as well, leading researchers to continue down the path of better understanding the cell-sequencing and how a solution might look and act within the human body.

The research, just finalized in 2020, built-on what previous teams have found and utilized the already known link between diabetes and cell replacement therapy, while also understanding and modeling other cell behaviors.

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In short, the team developed new protocols (or solutions) for generating human stem cells to allow the body to heal damage caused by diabetes in mice. The results were remarkable. In mice, the stem cells that were implanted in the cytoskeleton, or inner layer of the cell, cured diabetes, keeping blood sugar levels stable for over 9 months.

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Photo by stevepb via Pixabay

Older research featured in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) looked at the unknown consequences of diabetes killing pancreatic β cells and the damage of molecular degeneration. They looked to a type of stem cell, or pluripotent cells (cells that have the capacity to self-renew), to see how they could use the cells to help “reprogram” cells to regenerate those damaged by diabetes.

Identifying new cells modeling, the research team paved a new path to better understanding stem cell therapy with diabetes in 2009 with new technology that allowed for better recreation and usage of stem cells.

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What’s next? The research team is looking to replicate findings in larger animals to better understand the complexities involved and hoping to be able to replicate the same results to eventually allow for human trials. With just under 10% of the population living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) a cure would change the life of millions.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO,) diabetes has been on the rise since the early 1980’s with 108 million individuals living with diabetes in 1980 to 422 individuals in 2018. Causing blindness, kidney failure, and stroke, diabetes is a major concern in countries with both higher and lower incomes. 


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