Diabetes Treatment Innovations

The potential for life-saving diabetes treatment can be found in emerging research. A progeny of cutting-edge scientific innovations spur potential advancements in generating B cells, insulin-producing pancreatic cells.

Treatments that offer alternative sources of cells, such as stem cell therapy, provide insulin producing islet cells.   These advancements can greatly extend the number of patients who may benefit from the innovations.

New advancements pose intriguing options for patients with diabetes. Several sources of cell procurement come from porcine cells, fetal pancreatic stem cells, and induction of insulin producing B cells by therapeutic cloning. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are cells that can multiply and become more specialized cells. Stem cells can be obtained from many areas including bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. There are two types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells; and adult stem cells.

Adult stem cells can replenish tissues and act as a repair system for the body. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, meaning they can become specialized to differentiate into: endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs); mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital); or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system).

For a person with diabetes, stem cells have the potential to differentiate into islet cells. These cells are tasked with the job of making insulin- an important hormone central in regulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism. If there is inadequate insulin produced, cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue cannot take in glucose (sugar) from the blood.

For more information visit Women In Government’s Stem Cell Information Page

Xenogeneic Islet Cells

Porcine islet cells, derived from pigs, have been suggested due to its virtually unlimited supply of insulin producing cells for transplantation. Yet, the immunological barrier is greater than the conventional human islet cell transplantations. Porcine islet cells run a higher risk of rejection.

New developments of pigs that express human genes and the use of cloning technology to produce “humanized” pigs have been welcomed in the past. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has halted trials of porcine xenografts. Porcine xenografts pose a threat to public health from cross-species infections of endogenous retroviruses that may adapt to the human host.

For more information on porcine islet cell research:

ASweetLife.Org: Dec. 17, 2010: Russia First Country that Approves Porcine Islet Cell Transplants

Pittzburgh Post-Gazette.com: Jan. 09, 2008:Promising Diabetes Treatment Found in Pig Cells