A cure for Type 1 diabetes is a step closer after scientists managed to ‘switch off’ the condition for at least six months thanks to insulin-producing cells.
A study published in the journal Nature Medicine has revealed that experts from a number of U.S. institutions have transplanted cells into mice, which immediately began producing insulin.
According to the Telegraph, in 2014 researchers at Harvard University discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells, and now a team at MIT has proved that implanting the cells into mice can completely restore insulin function for months at a time.
The breakthrough could mean the end of daily insulin injections for around 400,000 people in Britain who suffer with Type 1 diabetes. Instead they would simply need a transfusion of engineered cells every few years, and researchers say human trials are not far off.
Dr Daniel Anderson, professor of applied biology at MIT said:
These results lay the groundwork for future human studies using these formulations with the goal of achieving long-term replacement therapy for type one diabetes.
We believe (the cells) have the potential to provide insulin independence for patients suffering from this disease. It has the potential to allow them to control their blood sugar without taking drugs.Advertisement
Sufferers of Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce enough insulin – the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels.
If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high it can seriously damage the body’s organs over time and can lead to devastating complications such as blindness or loss of limbs.
At the moment sufferers must test their blood-sugar levels throughout the day then give themselves insulin through multiple daily injections.
Julia Greenstein,Vice President of Discovery Research at JDRF, the world’s leading Type 1 diabetes research charity said:
These therapies have the potential to be ground-breaking. They effectively establish long-term insulin independence and eliminate the daily burden of managing the disease for months, possibly years, at a time.
Arturo Vegas, a former MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital postdoc, now an assistant professor at Boston University added:
Being insulin-independent is the goal. This would be a state-of-the-art way of doing that, better than any other technology could.