Researchers at Harvard University have used stem cells to create billions of the insulin-producing cells the body lacks in type 1 diabetes, in what is being called an important advance in the the search for a cure.
The team reported in the journal Cell that it created the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells from stem cells and then injected them into mice with diabetes. Two weeks later, the mice no longer had diabetes.
“We are now just one preclinical step away from the finish line,” said Douglas Melton, co-chairman of the department of stem cell research and regenerative biology at Harvard, in a report at Medical News Today.
The next step is developing a way to stop the body’s immune system from destroying the new beta cells, as it does in people with type 1 diabetes.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working with the team at Harvard on an implant to protect the beta cells. Current tests in mice are showing promising results, Melton said. In the meantime, the team at Harvard is testing the stem cell-derived beta cells in other animals.
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