An emerging way to treat diabetes is to repair or replace the cells in the body that naturally produce insulin. Swedish researchers have now identified a molecule that helps stimulate the growth of new insulin-producing cells, and uncovered how it works, opening up new potential diabetes treatments.
IMPLANT CONTAINING INSULIN PRODUCING STEM CELLS
An experimental implant containing stem cells designed to mature into insulin-secreting cells passed its first human trails. The studies reported the implant (designed to replace the missing insulin cells) to be mildly effective, offering promising signs of a ‘functional cure’ for diabetics with type 1.
The implanted stem may mature and become islet tissue that includes the beta cells that produce insulin when needed so that normal blood sugar levels may be maintained! Is this not just wonderful news!!
‘Because of this initial success, we are now implanting larger numbers of cells in additional patients and we hope that this will result in a significant reduction or even elimination of the need for patients to take insulin injections in the near future,’ says David Thompson, a researcher working on the trial from the Vancouver General Hospital Diabetes Centre.
The new findings have been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.
NEW PILL COULD HELP TREAT AND EVEN PREVENT TYPE 1 DIABETES
Yale researchers have developed a pill that controls insulin levels while simultaneously reversing the inflammatory effects of the disease. The pill addresses three issues:
- it helps control immediate blood glucose levels
- restores pancreatic function, and
- re-establishes normal immunity in the pancreatic environment.
Developer Tarek Fahmy, associate professor of biomedical engineering and of immunobiology: ‘What excites me about this is that it’s a two-pronged approach. It’s facilitating normal metabolism as well as correcting immune defects in the long term.’ The nanoparticle or nanocarrier, made from polymerized bile acid, protects the insulin while carrying it to the pancreas.
Published in Yale Biomedical Engineering, 2021 Nov;5(11):1403.
AN INGESTIBLE INSULIN PILL THAT WORKS
When it comes to insulin delivery, injections are not the most comfortable or convenient for diabetes patients. But with several other oral insulin alternatives also being tested and developed, there is hope. Dr. Pratap-Singh’s research team developed a different kind of tablet that isn’t made for swallowing, but instead dissolves when placed between the gum and cheek.
This method makes use of the thin membrane found within the lining of the inner cheek and back of the lips (also known as the buccal mucosa). It delivered all the insulin to the liver without wasting or decomposing any insulin along the way.
The study is yet to go into human trials. Beyond the clear potential benefits to diabetics, the tablet could also be more sustainable, cost-effective and accessible. There is a lot of environmental waste from the needles and plastic from the syringe. Transporting the tablets would be easier for diabetics, who currently have to think about keeping their doses cool.
Published in Scientific Reports, 2022. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-13092-6