Type 1 Diabetes Cure

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Type 1 diabetes is mostly a treatable but largely incurable disease. The disease is caused by damaged beta cells in the islets of Langerhans of the pancreas that fail to secrete insulin. Insulin facilitates the uptake of glucose from the blood by muscle, fat, liver and other cells of the body where it is used as the energy source for various cellular functions. Since people with type 1 diabetes lack insulin, the main approach to treatment is the exogenous injection of insulin to restore a normal insulin level.

To actually cure the condition would mean eliminating the basic pathology of type 1 diabetes and helping the beta cells secrete normal amounts of insulin. However, some such approaches that are currently in development include:

Cell encapsulation

Cell encapsulation aims to replace the pancreatic function through the creation of an artificial pancreas made from bioengineered tissue that contains the islet cells of the pancreas. This implant is programmed to secrete the correct amounts of insulin, amylin and glucagon hormones that are need for the normal regulation of blood glucose.

In the case of transplant, immunosuppressant drugs are usually needed to prevent the body from mounting an immune reaction against the transplanted tissue and destroying it.

With cell encapsulation, however, a protective coating is placed over the transplanted cells to protect them from immune attack, therefore prolonging their existence in the body as well as eliminating the need for immunosuppressant drugs. Cell encapsulation has not yet been successful in humans but is thought to hold promise for the future.

Regeneration of the islet cells is another new approach where degenerating islet cells are allowed to proliferate to resume their functions.

Transplantation of pancreas from a suitable matched donor.

Stem cell research for the regeneration and creation of islet cells from a person's own body. This lowers the likelihood of the immune system reacting to an artificial pancreas. With this approach, pancreatic beta cells are grown in the laboratory using stem cells taken from the umbilical cord blood of newborns or from the person's own stem cells.

Another approach is the use of gene therapy. A virus vector or vehicle can be especially designed to carry an insulin gene that gets activated in response to high blood sugar. This is also being researched widely to find a cure for type 1 diabetes.

Reviewed by , BSc

Further Reading

Last Updated: Nov 18, 2013

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Comments
  1. Provis Pahoy Provis Pahoy Spain says:

    I think that in your "summary" lacks some serious researchers who unfortunately for them are neither funded by big pharmaceutical or American universities. Check out this link and find that in other countries is investigated too.         www.uab.es/.../...o-1-en-perros-1099409749848.html

  2. Nazir Hussain Nazir Hussain United Kingdom says:

    I find it tedious to hear about stem cells and their potential benefits. Everyone talks about this technology but very people are offering the treatment. And, those that dare to treat patients with stem cell therapy end up at the receiving end of criticism, abuse and ridicule. Why is that please?

    Let me  tell you,  I've had embryonic stem cells injected into my body on 6 separate occasions. 5 years on, I feel ok. In fact, I believe I regained the quality of my life as a result of stem cells that every medical person was against. Why?

  3. Jocelyn Arruda Jocelyn Arruda United States says:

    I believe this has to do with the outrageous amount of money pharmaceutical companies are making *not* curing diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes...if this disease, as well many others, are cure they will lose a significant number of clients, which is reflected in lost dollars. Anything different or experimental in diabetes research often seems to be pushed aside. If you don't mind my asking, did you receive the stem cell injections to help control diabetes?

  4. Parvez Elahi Parvez Elahi Islamic Republic of Pakistan says:

    Dear Arruda,

    I am agree with your comments as pharmaceutical companies do not want to loose the business on innocent young infants and children.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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