Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine have successfully used human stem cells to cure diabetes in mice!
They achieved the breakthrough by converting human stem cells into cells that secrete insulin. The mice had severe diabetes with blood sugar readings that could be fatal for a person, according to lead researcher Jeffrey Millman.
But when the researchers gave the mice the insulin-secreting cells, the blood glucose levels of the diabetic critters returned to normal. And they stayed that way for many months!
Millman says his team’s work builds on previous research. Scientists had earlier figured out how to create insulin-producing cells from human stem cells.
They have been unable to demonstrate the effectiveness of the process in sick mice – until now.
Millman says his group’s approach maximizes the number and function of insulin-producing cells the stem cell process creates. In fact, he says, some of the mice remained cured for more than a year!
However, the scientist admits that the approach will require further development before it can be used on humans.
The team nevertheless hopes to one day find an automated way to create enough cells to allow diabetics to live longer without insulin injections.