Researchers in the American city of Seattle believe they may be able to stop or at least delay the development of type 1 diabetes at an early stage, using mouse cells.
Type 1, sometimes called juvenile diabetes, affects more than a million Americans. Type 1 occurs when the immune system attacks and wipes out the cells that produce insulin, meaning that the body cannot process sugar. Type 1 usually occurs in childhood or early adulthood, with the result that the patient has to inject insulin for the rest of their lives. Any level of treatment would improve insulin-injecting diabetics quality of life vastly.
Teams of American scientists believe that they need to act immediately following a diabetes diagnosis, when some of the insulin-producing beta cells remain intact. They may then be able to extend this period of diminished functionality indefinitely. The mouse cells, after being treated to prevent allergic human reaction, are injected into the bloodstream where they neutralise the immune system cells that would attack beta cells.
It is believed that keeping beta cells alive would reduce the risk of long-term complications caused by diabetes. A projected best-case scenario would see the immune system ‘reset’, allowing insulin production to resume. There is also a possibility of beta cells gradually multiplying, with careful hormonal treatment, and eventually a cure.
13 patients in the early stages of diabetes development will be treated at the Pacific Northwest Research Institute (PNRI), in one of the first experiments of its type.

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