Embryonic stem cell research aimed at diabetes

Wed, 01 Jun 2011
Scientists in the United States are carrying out research using embryonic stem cells in a bid to offer help for people suffering from type 1 diabetes .

The team, from a company based in San Diego called ViaCyte Inc. have developed a new kind of medical implant that assists diabetic patients in managing their blood sugar levels . The method consists of a type of envelope filled with embryonic stem cells and implanted under the skin, so that the cells involved become pancreatic cells .

People who have type 1 diabetes usually need insulin injections or an insulin pump to control their blood sugar, although this approach can be inconvenient and difficult to stick to. Eugene Brandon, a director at ViaCyte, has claimed that the device has already been used to successfully treat diabetes in mice. He commented on the research, "We're essentially creating a replacement pancreas ."

However, Vivian Fonseca, president-elect for medicine and science at the American Diabetes Association, also said "What people want is a single, one-time cure. I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future", although he argued that stem cell research could be a step in the right direction.

The company plans to start human trials by 2013, funded by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, the state's stem cell funding agency.
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