Diabetes affects more than 100 million adults in the United States, and new medications and treatments to control the condition are being developed all the time. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is actually an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that regulate blood sugar. There are currently two ongoing clinical trials to determine how stem cells can be used to treat Type 1 diabetes.
Insulin Producing Cells
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the immune system attacking the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Previous attempts to replace these cells with donated organs have had mixed success, mostly due to the fact that donated stem cells and organs have a risk of rejection. One clinical trial is seeking to use stem cells collected from the patient and grown in a laboratory to replace these insulin producing cells. If successful, the process could be a step toward a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Another clinical trial is using embryonic stem cells to try to replace the insulin producing cells. This has been attempted in the past, but the problem has been that the stem cells could be rejected. This new clinical trial places the embryonic stem cells in a small pouch that is placed under the skin. It is thought that this treatment option will decrease the risk of rejection of the implanted stem cells while still providing the same benefits.
If you or someone you love is suffering from type 1 diabetes, a cure may be in the works. To be included in one of these or other clinical trials using stem cells, contact us today for more information or to connect with our network of doctors.