Health Stemming the tide of the diabetes tsunami

Stemming the tide of the diabetes tsunami

New stem cell therapy is leading the way to an injection-free future for people with type 1 diabetes.

Researchers have found a way to reprogram human stem cells so they imitate pancreatic cells and produce insulin.

When transplanted into diabetic mice, the cells are able to control blood glucose levels.

Researchers from The University of Sydney say the remodelled cells are also able to trick the immune system into thinking they’re the real deal, so they’re less likely to be rejected or require the recipient to take immunosuppressant drugs.

In Australia more than 120,000 people have type 1 diabetes.

It’s an autoimmune disease where the body destroys its own vital insulin producing pancreatic cells, leaving patients requiring lifelong insulin replacement therapy, usually through endless injections.

Some patients have received pancreatic cell transplants from donors, but there’s always the risk of rejection.

The university’s Professor Chris Liddle says the reprogrammed stem cells could be a better alternative.

“More research is needed, but if we are able to find a way to re-establish long-term pancreatic islet function and return blood glucose levels to normal, as well as reduce the need for immunosuppressants, that would be a game-changer for patients with type 1 diabetes,” he said.

“We believe this is a significant step toward an injection-free or device-free future for people with type 1 diabetes.”

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