Stem cell treatment continues to be tested around the world in addressing a number of serious medical conditions. Recent research put this technology to use in helping diabetes patients get relief from their condition. Early results of this testing have been positive and researchers are encouraged to continue their studies in order to determine if this may be part of the future of autoimmune disease treatment.
There are two types of diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreatic beta cells are attacked and injured by the body’s immune system. This means they can no longer make insulin, which is critical in transferring sugar from the bloodstream to cells, to later be used as energy. In Type 2 diabetes, the body has a resistance to insulin and is unable to use it efficiently. With this condition, the pancreas is either unable to make enough insulin to keep the blood glucose under control, or the tissues become less responsive to one’s own insulin.
Researchers believe that in the near future doctors may be able to help those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes by stimulating their existing pancreatic stem cells to make new beta cells. In order to make this a reality, researchers need to identify the specific cells in that area of the body that is capable of differentiation and maturation. They are also working to find drugs that can activate these cells into production mode.
Research surrounding stem cell therapy for those who suffer from Type 2 diabetes has taken a different approach. Doctors can take cells from the patients own bone marrow and use it to decrease the need for daily insulin injections. While testing is in its early phases, the results have been positive and demonstrated that lower insulin doses are attainable. Testing on a greater number of patients is expected as a next step in this promising use of the technology.