Repair of beta cell-supporting blood vessels key to type 1 diabetes cure

Thu, 06 Jun 2013
Scientists in the United States say they have developed a new cure for type 1 diabetes in mice by combining adult stem cells from healthy donors with a promising, immune-suppressing drug .

Researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine, led by Habib Zaghouani, PhD, discovered that type 1 diabetes not only destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas but also the blood vessels that support them.

In previous studies, Zaghouani and colleagues developed and tested a drug called Ig-GAD2 that was able to prevent the immune system from attacking and destroying pancreatic beta cells . While the drug worked well to prevent type 1 diabetes, too few beta cells survived the attack to reverse the disease.

"This made us question whether there were enough beta cells left when the disease is advanced," said Zaghouani, a professor of microbiology and immunology, child health and neurology at the University of MS.

For their latest study, the scientists combined Ig-GAD2 with injections of adult stem cells from healthy bone marrow into the pancreas in the hope that the stem cells would transform into functioning beta cells.

But much to their surprise, the stem cells evolved into endothelial cells that generated the growth of new blood vessels to supply existing beta cells with the nourishment required to multiply and thrive.

The mice were cured of type 1 diabetes and remained diabetes-free throughout the study follow-up of 120 days.

Zaghouani said: "We discovered that to cure Type 1 Diabetes, we need to repair the blood vessels that allow the subject's beta cells to grow and distribute insulin throughout the body.

"This is extremely exciting for our research team. Our discovery about the importance of restoring blood vessels has the potential to be applied not only to Type 1 Diabetes but also a number of other autoimmune diseases."
Leave a Comment
Login via Facebook, Yahoo! and Hotmail
or
Have your full say in the Diabetes Forum
Your comments may be moderated. Please report any spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts.