A man has been cured of type 2 diabetes for the first time, academics in China have claimed.

In 2021, a 59-year-old man underwent a life-changing cell transplant and since 2022 he has been medication free – now for a total of 33 months.

As part of the treatment, the team of researchers developed artificial versions of the cells that are located in the pancreas and responsible for producing insulin and keeping blood sugar levels in line.

After living with the condition for 25 years, the man nearly lost all function of these cells, which are otherwise known as islets.

To stop himself from going into a diabetic coma, he had to inject insulin multiple times per day because he was deemed as high risk.

Type 2 diabetes can be put into remission, but this is the first case of the condition being cured, according to the researchers.

During the treatment, the scientists tested a new chemical cocktail that was able to turn stem cells into brain, muscle, kidney and even pancreatic tissue.

Stem cells create insulin – a hormone made in your body that helps manage blood sugar levels. People with diabetes do not produce enough insulin in their pancreas to regulate blood sugar.

However, by adding the new, lab-grown cells, the man could start to produce his own insulin again, the study has shown.

Professor Timothy Kieffer, who was not involved in the study, said: “I think this study represents an important advance in the field of cell therapy for diabetes. After they test it in more people, they’ll need to find a way to scale up their operation.”

Apparently turning blank ‘seed cells’ into functioning pancreas cells is significantly expensive, intricate and time-consuming.

The authors said: “People with type 1 diabetes, whose pancreas has been attacked by the immune system, might have a harder time using this treatment because their immune system might reject the new implanted cells.”

First author Dr Yin Hao said: “Our technology has matured, and it has pushed boundaries in the field of regenerative medicine for the treatment of diabetes.”

Professor Kieffer concluded: “This therapy may, free people from the burden of chronic medications, improve health and quality of life, and reduce healthcare expenditures.”

Read the study in the journal Cell Discovery.

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