Once created, the cells were put into a diabetic mouse which was then cured by the experiment. This research process is now one step away from human trials, though that one step may consist of years of more research and animal trials.
With there being some controversy regarding the ethics of using stem cells from human embryos, stem cells from human skin cells may be the method used to create the possible cure for diabetes, since such stem cell usage has had success.
People with Type I diabetes need regular insulin injections in order to maintain safe blood sugar levels. With Type I diabetes, because the pancreas is attacked by the immune system, it becomes unable to make the insulin the body needs to turn sugar into energy. Injections provide the type of insulin release the body needs, whereas a pill does not for those with Type I diabetes. For some, a special insulin pump is used which keeps insulin regularly input into the body. Type I diabetes affects both children and adults.
People with Type II diabetes are also offered some hope by this latest development in diabetes cure research. People with Type II also have a problem with insulin production in their body, being either unable to make the insulin they need or the insulin created by their body simply does not work correctly. The use of stem cells to create cells that produce insulin could also translate to curing Type II diabetes, for some, if not all those who suffer from it.
The Boston Globe reports that Melton did not work alone on the diabetes cure project, with it also utilizing the efforts of “a rotating cast of 50 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers.” Further, the treatment takes about “a coffee cup’s worth of beta cells,” which are the insulin-producing cells created from stem cells.
With so much attention on diabetes, particularly Type II and its cost to the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), the U.S.’s Medicaid and other public healthcare programs, there is likely to be much support from both the private and public sectors in advancing this research.
(Photo courtesy of Alden Chadwick)