Stem cell transplants shown to reverse diabetes in mice

Thu, 28 Jun 2012
A new study from Canada has claimed that human embryonic stem cell transplants can reverse type 1 diabetes in mice by helping the pancreas to produce sufficient insulin to maintain blood sugar levels.

The researchers, reported in the journal Diabetes, managed to wean mice with diabetes off insulin once they had received a pancreatic stem cell transplant, allowing the cycle of insulin production to start again. After a four-month period, the mice were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, even if they were given sugar in their diet. However, the team did point out that they used mice with a suppressed immune system, as it was more effective in stopping the rejection of transplanted cells.

Timothy Kieffer from the University of British Columbia, who led the study in conjunction with the firm BetaLogics, said "We are very excited by these findings, but additional research is needed before this approach can be tested clinically in humans."

He added "We now need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppression."

The findings support a previous study from 2009, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, where researchers managed to successfully reverse type 1 diabetes using stem cells injected into eight patient/donors.
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