Is diabetes treatable with stem cell therapy? New clinical trials and treatments seem to indicate so.
India is poised to become the diabetes capital of the world. There are several researches and clinical trials being conducted around the world to find a cure for diabetes. New developments in diabetes treatment and research indicate that a drug currently awaiting US FDA approval may well replace the traditional treatments to increase the level of insulin in the body.
In this context, researchers are closely monitoring the application of stem cells in the treatment of diabetes. The focus of this research is on the viability of stem cells being a source of insulin producing cells in the body. Ongoing research at the University of North Carolina is aimed to identify stem cells to sense the excess of glucose in the blood and secrete insulin in response. As per this research, stem cells could be developed to become sensor cells in the human pancreas – to further help in the generation of beta cells. However, this end result has largely been tested on mice thus far.
Stem cell therapy for diabetes is now being probed in a new research at University of British Columbia, Canada. The study aims to find how mice with Type 2 diabetes were successfully treated with stem cell transplantation and diabetes inhibiting medication. The research was started to find an alternative to traditional methods used to control diabetes: medication in tablet form and/or insulin injections. These, however, can often be counterproductive, causing metabolism and digestive problems, and also compromising the health of the body’s major organs.
Researchers found that stem cell transplantation from human embryonic stem cells and diabetes inhibiting medication in mice suffering from Type 2 diabetes showed weight loss and high glucose-response metabolism. It is being hoped that the findings will pave the way for treatment of Type 2 diabetes in humans. Stem cell therapy for diabetes treatment would have implications for patients, who could experience a better quality of life while living with diabetes.
Though human clinical trials involving stem cell therapy for diabetes are not yet in the offing, it is hoped that the results of such researches will one day help find a solution to a long-standing global disease. It will not just ease the treatment of diabetes, but may bring down costs associated with medical care, too.
 Diabetes statistics, India, WHO
 ‘Turning Stem Cells into Insulin-Producing Cells’, http://www.diabetesresearch.org/stem-cells
 Whiteman, Honor, ‘Stem cell-based therapy for type 2 diabetes shows promise’, Medical News Today, March 21, 2015