Česky: Aplikace “rychlého” inzulínu inzulinovým perem (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The most common type of childhood diabetes, which accounts for some 10% of all diabetes cases is Type 1 and sufferers must inject insulin daily to survive. At last it seems that research scientists might have achieved what they refer to as a giant leap forward.
In the ongoing search for an effective treatment a study was conducted in which some experts – employing human embryonic stem cells as their start point – have for the first time ever produced human beta-cells that make insulin. Tests proved these created cells to be almost 100% equal to normally functioning beta cells and the good news is that these can produced in quantity on demand.
Since type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which the pancreas stops producing insulin the scientists are hopeful that the discovery could lead in time to those suffering with the condition no longer needing to inject themselves with insulin to regulates blood glucose levels.
Too much glucose in the blood can seriously damage bodily organs so the study is now at the stage where stem cell-derived beta cells are undergoing trials on various animals including non-human primates. This is being done with a view to staring human trials within the shortest possible time
Harvard Xander University professor Doug Melton led the team who made the momentous discovery commented that clinical trials of beta cells implanted in mice have thus far proved to perform very well indeed. He added that the holy grail had been getting access to glucose-sensing, insulin-secreting beta cells and managing to do that has put the research team just a short pre-clinical step away from a ground-breaking new diabetes treatment.
As yet still obviously very much in the experimental phase cell transplantation has only been made available to very few patients as it employs cells from corpses and patients need to be given powerful immunity suppressing drugs. Rockefeller University Professor Elaine Fuchs remarked that this research had led to findings that were without doubt among the most important advances in the stem-cell field to date.
The ability to create cells on demand that can produce insulin by themselves has surely to be the biggest breakthrough ever achieved in the treatment of diabetes and could potentially bring welcome relief from the daily needle for millions of sufferers around the world over time.
Doug Melton and his team have unquestionably now opened the door for a new era in drug discovery and transplantation therapy for diabetics and no doubt those affected all over the world will be thanking the stars for their incredible efforts.
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