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Stem Cells for Diabetes

Stem Cells for Diabetes. Scientists working to develop more effective treatments for diabetes are turning to stem cells. These can be transformed into cells that produce insulin.

Two clinical trials are achieving positive results that bring the goal of curing diabetes with regenerative medicine treatments closer.

Patients with type 1 diabetes have begun to produce insulin in response to rising blood sugar levels. This is after eating food, according to early results from a clinical trial of a stem cell-based treatment.

In another clinical trial of a similar treatment. A 64-year-old patient has received an infusion of insulin-producing cells obtained in the laboratory from stem cells. This has reduced his need to inject the hormone to control his blood sugar by 91%.

The results represent a milestone toward the goal of curing diabetes with stem cells. One of the main lines of research in regenerative medicine over the last two decades.

For now, these are still experimental therapies that require the use of immunosuppressive drugs to prevent the body from rejecting the treatment.

Studies at the University of Barcelona – Stem Cells for Diabetes

“This is a very important breakthrough that shows that you can restore patients’ ability to secrete insulin with stem cell-based therapies; work had been going on for years to get this far,” says Meritxell Rovira, a specialist in pancreas regeneration at the Idibell Institute and the University of Barcelona.

But she warns that patients treated in clinical trials must receive immunosuppressive drugs. For this reason, “the candidates for these therapies are a minority of diabetic patients with severe hypoglycemia”.

The usual treatment consists of insulin injections to regulate blood sugar levels. Doctors perform transplants of pancreatic tissue containing insulin-producing cells in severe cases.

It is important to know that their use is limited due to the scarcity of donations. In addition, they require immunosuppressive treatment to prevent the body from rejecting the transplant.

In 1998, human embryonic stem cells were obtained for the first time in the laboratory. After this event came the idea of creating insulin-producing cells from stem cells. This would allow people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels without the need for insulin injections.

ViaCyte Company Clinical Trial

That hope has taken 23 years to reach the first patients. In a clinical trial by the company ViaCyte, most people implanted with a device containing cells under the skin have regained the ability to produce insulin when blood sugar levels rise.

The implant, a rectangle measuring 9 by 3 centimeters and one millimeter thick, contains between 250 and 500 million immature pancreatic stem cell-derived cells.

According to the results of two studies presented in the journals Cell Stem Cell and Cell Reports Medicine, corresponding to 43 clinical trial participants treated in the United States and Canada, the cells mature into functional pancreatic cells when implanted in the human body.

Although the patients have continued to require insulin injections. They have improved their blood sugar control and reduced their need for insulin injections.

Having proven the safety of the implant, which works for more than a year, ViaCyte researchers are now studying how to refine the technique to improve its effectiveness.

Vertex and Harvard University

Vertex reported in a press release another clinical trial in which they reduced the need for insulin injections by 91% in the first patient treated. The therapy consisted of an infusion of insulin-producing cells.

These cells were grown in the laboratory from stem cells and injected into a vein in the liver. The patient, who had suffered five life-threatening episodes of hypoglycemia in the past year. They selected him to participate in the study because of the severity of his diabetes.

Researchers will include an additional 16 patients in the clinical trial, which they expect to last five years. The New York Times reported that Harvard University biologist Doug Melton developed the Vertex treatment.

He refocused his career on finding a cure for diabetes after his son developed the disease at six months old. Later, doctors diagnosed his daughter with type 1 diabetes at 14 years old.

Stem Cells for Diabetes – A promising future.

Developers could avoid the risk of immune rejection and the need for immunosuppressive drugs by developing a similar therapy using iPS stem cells obtained from the patients themselves.

A therapy that restores the ability to produce insulin without the need for immunosuppression could turn type 1 diabetes into a curable disease.”

To learn more about stem cells, we invite you to see our article Stem Cells.

Spanish Version

We specialize in treatments with human stem cells, led by Dr. Juan Antonio Garza Quintanilla, a specialist in stem cells. With over 36 years of research and clinical experience, we have proven the effectiveness of regenerative medicine and its incredible benefits for people who decide to recover their health.

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