Cure for diabetes could be around the corner after US scientists found cells from the spleen can transform into insulin-producing cells. US researchers were able to halt, and even reverse, the disease in mice.
The research by Massachusetts General Hospital offers hope to millions of people with Type 1 diabetes who need daily insulin injections to survive. They hope to begin human trial soon.
The US researchers had already shown that injecting diabetic mice with spleen cells from healthy mice re-educated their immune systems so that they could accept an islet cell transplant. But the mice unexpectedly began producing islet cells that could secrete insulin themselves.
This latest research found this only happened if the mice had been given a specific type of spleen cell which lacks molecule CD45 (identified to be precursors for pancreatic islets).
Scientists previously believed it was impossible to regenerate insulin-secreting islet cells.
They found that in diabetic mice that achieved long-term normal glucose metabolism (read cured), all of the new functioning islets had significant numbers of cells with Y chromosomes, showing they had come from the male donors. Yet another use for the male species, eh.
Dr David Nathan, director of the hospital’s Diabetes Center, said: “These exciting findings in a mouse model of Type 1 diabetes suggest that patients who are developing this disease could be rescued from further destruction of their insulin-producing cells. In addition, patients with fully established diabetes possibly could have their diabetes reversed.”
via BBC [news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3266987.stm]