A cure for diabetes could be available in the near future following the development of a new technique designed to protect insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
The Daily Express reports that the process uses stem cells to protect and regenerate pancreatic beta cells. These unique cells are responsible for producing and secreting the hormone insulin to keep blood sugar levels in check. But in people with diabetes, they are either damaged or destroyed.
According to the paper, early trials by pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim have shown encouraging results in strengthening beta cells and improving their function.
“This could be a cure if linked with early diagnosis and treatment,” said Michel Pairet, head of pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim’s non-clinical research and development.
“The next wave of innovation is to try to protect the beta cell in the pancreas and maybe to cure the disease by inducing the regeneration of the cells . We are working on that.
“We started four years ago and, though it is difficult to say when because it is early pre-clinical development, the realistic timeline could be around 10 years.”
Dr Pairet explained that protecting beta cells or helping these cells regenerate means that the treatment could help “stop or significantly delay” the disease and its associated complications .
“A person’s need for insulin would be reduced or postponed – and that is our goal,” he added.
Studies in which cell structures are reprogrammed to alter the need for insulin are now being conducted at Boehringer centres in Germany but future trials could be held in the UK.

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