The cure for diabetes is imminent, thanks to the surprising discovery made by researchers at Harvard University. The insulin breakthrough occurred when scientists discovered how to manufacture insulin-producing cells in mass. Harvard researchers describe the find as a significant breakthrough that may create new ways to treat diabetes. According to an updated report from RT on Oct. 11, scientists were able to drastically alter human embryonic stem cells, transforming them into cells that produce and release insulin.
According to the Washington Post, after 15 years of studies and experiments, experts led by Professor Doug Melton developed an innovative technique to transform embryonic stem cells into functional beta cells. “We are reporting the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells — the cell that can read the amount of sugar in the blood which appears following a meal and then squirts out or secretes just the right amount of insulin,” Melton said.
The technique was tested in mice suffering from type 1 diabetes. The scientists found that beta cells obtained in the laboratory could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels in the blood of the mice for months. Currently, the beta cells derived from stem cells are being tested in animals, including primates. Cells transplanted in animals several months ago continue to produce insulin normally.
One problem in the study is that once the beta cells are injected into a human being, they could attack the body’s immune system. So, scientists stress that they need to continue research to solve the problem and make this method an effective cure. According to scholars, human transplant trials could be underway in a few years and current research opens new doors for drug discovery and transplantation therapy to treat diabetes.
Regarding the insulin breakthrough, Albert Hwa, director of discovery science at JDRF, said:“This is part of the holy grail of regenerative medicine or tissue engineering, trying to make an unlimited source of cells or tissues or organs that you can use in a patient to correct a disease.” Hwa, who is head of a New York-based diabetes advocacy group that funded Melton’s work, also explained that the technique is an important step toward understanding and treating diabetes,
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes the pancreas to stop producing insulin, the hormone that regulates glucose levels in the blood. If the blood glucose level is too high, over time it can severely damage the body’s organs. Unlike type-2 diabetes, there is no way to prevent type-1.