New Method Blocks Diabetes in Mice for the First Time Ever
Diabetes is a rather common disease that, according to a recent statistic, affects about 415 million people all over the world, while 46.5% of adult cases have not been diagnosed.
There are two different types of diabetes whose “methods” are, basically, the same. They both affect the beta cells located in the pancreas. These cells are responsible for producing insulin, which in turn regulates the concentration levels of glucose in our blood. Elevated glucose levels can have severe consequences to our health and could even be fatal.
Fortunately for the millions of people suffering from such a condition, medicine has created a small beam of hope.
A research team from the Salk Institute of California managed to turn stem cells belonging to a group called “pluripotent”, which means that can be turned into any cell type needed, into beta cells, the aforementioned type that can be found in the pancreas and then “plant” them in the pancreas of mice suffering from diabetes.
The results were astonishing. Not only there was a temporary decline in the symptoms but, after extensive studies and analysis, the research team found out that the treatment blocked diabetes for good and prevented the re-appearance of the disease.
This technique has been tried more than a few times in the past but the results were negative. The difference that led to success was the addition of a protein complex known as ERRy (Estrogen Related Receptor-gamma) that enabled the implanted stem cells to grow way beyond their initial stage, become fully developed beta cells and start their operation in the pancreas.
However, our excitement should be limited because experts state that there are more than one origin of diabetes. In the case of it deriving from a genetic “error”, it could just slightly change and then resume its actions despite the transplanted beta cells.
Type II diabetes is also more difficult to combat using this method since in this type, beta cells are not absent from the pancreas, they are just not effective. Inserting new cells in the same region will cause a sort of organic conflict between them. This is a potential problem that scientists will have to solve eventually.
No matter how small or insignificant a new breakthrough may seem, we have to keep in mind the famous proverb that goes “Every journey begins with one small step“. This new method is a start towards our final goal which is to eradicate diabetes once and for all and improve the quality of the life of millions of people.