One Step Closer to Reversing Type 1 Diabetes With Stem Cells


The laboratory search for a way to reverse type 1 diabetes took a step closer to reality with the publication of a pre-clinical study that used human embryonic stem cells and a quicker protocol.

Previous methods of converting stem cells into insulin-producing cells required four months, but University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers have developed a protocol that requires just six weeks.

The newly devised, seven stage protocol transforms stem cells into insulin-secreting pancreatic cells, but the conversion is only completed after the cells are transplanted into a host.

Using this protocol, they were able to fully reverse type 1 diabetes in mice in just 40 days.

"We are a step closer to having an unlimited supply of insulin-producing cells to treat patents with Type 1 diabetes," said Timothy Kieffer of UBC's Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences and the Department of Surgery. "We have not yet made fully functional cells in a dish, but we are very close. The cells we make in the lab produce insulin, but are still immature and need the transplant host to complete the transformation into fully functioning cells."

These so-called S7 cells are not fully equivalent to mature beta cells, not yet at least, but their capacity for glucose-responsive insulin secretion and rapid reversal of diabetes in vivo makes them "a promising alternative to pancreatic progenitor cells or cadaveric islets for the treatment of diabetes."

Human embryonic stem cells have the extraordinary ability to develop into any cell in the body. One of the problems facing this kind of research -- aside from politics -- is finding a way around the immune response to transplanted cells, which are regarded as foreign and attacked.

The team reported their findings in the journal Nature Biotechnology.


The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. Please see our Legal Statement for further information. Social


Diabetes Poll

Are you currently using oral medication to help control your diabetes?:
Total votes: 1110