Thursday, October 30, 2014
The brightening Light of Victory Over Diabetes
Essentially the big problem has been overcome and clumps of insulin producing cells will become generally available in as soon as five years. It has been expected and it was a first expectation when stem cells first emerged. It is really happening now and we can soon end diabetes.
It appears that type 2 can be handled much quicker as well. This is good news for the many elderly hanging on and facing a serious degenerative diagnosis. It may well be too late to help those already seriously engaged with the disease, but all those merely at risk now have a bright future. We are talking about the final defeat of a disease which is a critical risk of aging.
Thus we all are at some level of real risk for this disease. Closing that window is welcome.
New ground-breaking discovery could spell the end of diabetes
By Andrew Fazekas
What is being hailed as a major medical breakthrough gives new hope for those with Type 1 diabetes, thanks to human stem cells.
Scientists have figured out a way to morph embryonic stem cells into making and releasing insulin, which would be a big step forward in treating the more severe form of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s pancreas stops producing insulin – a hormone that enables us to get energy from food. The body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks and wipes out the insulin producing cells, which results in high blood sugar levels. If these levels remain high over long periods of time, the condition can increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, and can lead to damage across the body from the kidneys and eyes to the gastrointestinal system. The number of cases of Type 1 diabetes is quickly growing around the world, especially in children. Rates are rising three percent annually. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, in Canada it is estimated that more than 300,000 are affected. Meanwhile, the economic impacts are staggering as well – the costs associated with diabetes in this country alone runs upwards of $9 billion when combining all the work loss and associated medical expenses.
Now, in what many say may be a giant leap towards a cure, the Harvard University-led team claims that they are able to create an unlimited supply of replacement pancreatic cells in mice by implanting them with human embryonic cells that have been transformed into insulin-producing cells.
In the study, published this week in the journal Cell, the team revealed that after the procedure the animals produced insulin on their own for months.
Like their name suggests, embryonic stem cells are derived from eggs that have been fertilized in petri dishes and donated to research. As long as the cells are kept under certain laboratory conditions, they remain undifferentiated. As soon s they are allowed to clump together, they begin to naturally form various kinds of cells – like nerve, muscle or blood cells, amongst others.
By artificially controlling and tweaking their environment, scientists can funnel the growth of these cells into whatever specific types they need. Traumatic spinal injuries, loss of vision, and Parkinson’s Disease are just a few types of disorders stem cell research may help cure.
After 15 years of tinkering, the Harvard team has finally been able to coax stem cells to differentiate into insulin-producing cells.
While embryonic stem cell research has not been without controversy, new lab techniques avoids use of an embryo itself. Scientists can actually take adult cells and artificially reverse them back into their former stem cell status – and then specifically transform them into pancreatic cells.
At this point, the one stumbling block that needs to be solved is making sure the body does not reject the implanted cells. But the team is working on two promising solutions that involves placing a protective coating around the new cells.
If all goes well, the research team hopes to have government approval for human testing in about three years.
And the news gets more exciting, in that those suffering from Type 2 diabetes might benefit even sooner.
Since this form of diabetes is not an autoimmune disorder, the body won’t destroy the pancreatic cells, so there would be no need to protect the implanted cells.
For those living with diabetes, a day without the need for insulin shots can’t come soon enough.