For the first time ever, University of British Columbia scientists, in collaboration with an industry partner, have successfully reversed diabetes in mice using stem cells, paving the way for a breakthrough treatment for a disease that affects millions of children, teenagers and adults.
The research by Timothy Kieffer, a professor in the Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, and scientists from the New Jersey-based BetaLogics, a division of Janssen Research & Development, LLC, is the first to show that human stem cell transplants can successfully restore insulin production and reverse diabetes in mice. Crucially, they re-created the “feedback loop” that enables insulin levels to automatically rise or fall based on blood glucose levels. The study is published online June 27 in the journal Diabetes. (Science Daily)
The research team concluded that:
Our findings support the feasibility of using differentiated hESCs as an alternative to cadaveric islets for treating patients with diabetes.
Many labs across the globe are conducting research in this field, and utilizing mice as subjects for diabetes studies represents the earliest possible stage in research. In other words, don’t start celebrating just yet! However, although more information is needed and this report is very premature to get too excited, obviously the team at the University of British Columbia is worth watching.
For the original study in the Diabetes Journal, click here. (Maturation of Human Embryonic Stem Cell–Derived Pancreatic Progenitors into Functional Islets Capable of Treating Pre-existing Diabetes in Mice Diabetes published ahead of print June 27, 2012, doi:10.2337/db11-1711)