A new research report published in the journal Stem Cell Reports has revealed that stem cell therapy could give an extra dimension for treating diabetes. After the initial study, researchers found that stem cells can be transformed into insulin-producing cells that is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels in the human body.
During the study, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis tweaked a recipe for coaxing the human stem cells into insulin-secreting beta cells. Further analysis revealed that the resulting cells are more responsive to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood.
Scientists also transplanted these beta cells into mice, and the results were literally mindblowing. The new cells started secreting insulin within a few days, and they continued to control the blood sugar level in these animals for many months.
"We've been able to overcome a major weakness in the way these cells previously had been developed. The new insulin-producing cells react more quickly and appropriately when they encounter glucose. The cells behave much more like beta cells in people who don't have diabetes," said Jeffrey R. Millman, principal investigator of the study and an assistant professor of medicine and of biomedical engineering, Eurekalert.org reports.
The study team who took part in the research are now planning to adopt the stem cell approach to produce insulin the human body. However, Millman made it clear that he could not predict exactly when these cells will be ready for human trials. He also revealed that there are at least two feasible ways by which stem-cell derived cells could be used in human patients.
"Previously, the beta cells we manufactured could secrete insulin in response to glucose, but they were more like fire hydrants, either making a lot of insulin or none at all. The new cells are more sensitive and secrete insulin that better corresponds to the glucose levels," added Millman.