No more insulin injections? Diabetes Cure Could Be Step Closer: Study

Boston: Diabetes may soon be cured after scientists have managed to halt the condition in mice for six months, thanks to the use of insulin-producing cells that had been generated from human stem cells.

A patient with diabetes injects him with insulin to control their blood glucose.
A patient with diabetes injects him with insulin to control his blood glucose.

Experts from US hospitals and institutions including Harvard University managed to transplant cells into mice, which immediately began producing insulin.

The team was also able to show they could prevent the cells being rendered useless by the body’s own immune system, which was effectively “switched off” thanks to scientific work.

It means a cure for type 1 diabetes – which affects 400,000 people in the UK – could be much closer. Scientists are now working to replicate the results in humans with the condition.

The findings build on the news at the end of 2014 that experts had discovered how to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells.

The man who led that breakthrough – Harvard Professor Doug Melton, who has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a baby – also worked on the new studies.

The human islet cells used for the new research were generated from human stem cells developed by Professor Melton.

“Encapsulation therapies have the potential to be groundbreaking for people with type 1 diabetes.”

“These treatments aim to effectively establish long-term insulin independence and eliminate the daily burden of managing the disease for months, possibly years, at a time without the need for immune suppression,” said Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) vice-president of discovery research, Julia Greenstein.

The findings are published in the journals Nature Medicine and Nature Biotechnology and were made possible with funding from JDRF.