The search for a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a "tremendous step forward", scientists say. Dr Mark Vanderpump Consultant in Diabetes and Endocrinology at The Physicians' Clinic comments:
In type 1 diabetes the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas are destroyed by the body's own immune system. Currently for patients with type 1 diabetes the only available treatment is lifelong insulin administered by injections or pump therapy.
A new study has demonstrated that it is possible to produce large numbers of functioning stem cells that look structurally similar to the normal pancreatic islet cells and that they also produced insulin in response to glucose when transferred into mice. It is not clear whether these transplanted cells when injected into humans will be targeted by the body's own immune system or whether they will produce insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes or in those with type 2 diabetes on insulin treatment.
This research is still in its early stages and further trials in humans are awaited. It is not clear how long it will take this exciting laboratory research to translate to the clinic.