Type 1, or insulin dependent diabetes, occurs when the body produces little or no insulin. The disease develops when the body's immune cells mistakenly attack the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas.
As islet cells die, insulin production ceases and blood sugar levels rise, damaging organs throughout the body.
Type-1 diabetes is an all-too-common disease that forces people, many of them young children, to prick their fingers regularly to check their blood sugar levels and take insulin shots. But, new stem-cell technology could put an end to that. Researchers are hopeful that a type of stem-cell capsule could cure patients.
Now the first test of a type 1 diabetes treatment using stem cells has finally begun. In October, a San Diego man had two pouches of lab-grown pancreas cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells, inserted into his body through incisions in his back.
The research is being done by ViaCyte, which is growing immature pancreas cells and then inserting them into a patient's body, where it hopes they will become the beta cells that produce insulin and regulate blood sugar. It's encasing the cells in a mesh sack to protect them from the body's immune system.
So, far the results have been promising. The company tested the method on mice and found that the lab-grown beta cells were able regulate blood sugar and produce insulin, glucagon and somatostatin. It's now testing on human patients to make sure the method is safe.
In the other side scientist alternatively tried another method for diabetes mellitus cure that have to do with infusion of islets, extracted from donated person (or taken from dead people).
The procedure involves injecting a needle in the patient’s liver and slowly infusing it with a solution containing several hundred thousand islets, the cells that make insulin. Those islets come from a pancreas donated upon someone’s death, but instead of grafting the organ into the body of the patient, only the cells are transplanted.
For some patients, pancreas transplantation may be an option, but there are significant risks, and the surgery often involves specialized care in the ICU and a hospital stay that could be as long as a month. But in case of islet transplant patient has to stay in hospital shorter compared with pancreas transplant.
Patient who underwent to the islet transplant for the first time was very happy and comfortable, as she previously had some troubles with hypoglycemia attacks, tiredness, losing consciousness after her blood sugar dropped. But after islet transplant she regained herself as energy levels rebounded and the hypoglycemia attacks disappeared.
This method need to be done in sterile condition and also islets must be proper and ensured in quality and quantity.
Recently scientist are trying similar new methods that can be a major breakthrough for diabetes treatment, scientists have discovered a way to drastically alter human embryonic stem cells, transforming them into cells that produce and release insulin.
Developed by researchers at Harvard University, the innovative new technique involves essentially recreating the formation process of beta cells, which are located in the pancreas and secrete insulin. By stimulating certain genes in a certain order, the Boston Globe reports that scientists were able to charm embryonic stem cells – and even altered skin cells – into becoming beta cells.
In another way scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital have found that cells from the spleen appear to develop into insulin-producing cells in adult mice.
In a previous study, they had already discovered that injecting diabetic mice with spleen cells from healthy mice 'retrained' the immune system into not attacking islet cells. However in this study, the mice began producing islet cells capable of secreting insulin themselves, something that many thought was not possible
- Breakthrough allows Type I diabetics to live without insulin injections