According to a recent study from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, stem cell therapy may hold the key to reversing the effects of Type 2 diabetes. By employing human stem cells in diabetic mice, researchers were able to stop them from experiencing the drastic ups and downs in blood sugar levels associated with the condition.
To induce Type 2 diabetes in mice, the researchers simulated a similar situation to the one that often leads to the condition in humans: They fed the mice a high-calorie, high-fat diet for several weeks until they became obese and began to show diabetic symptoms. They then deployed human stem cell injections along with an insulin-sensitizing drug in one group of mice and gave another group the drug alone.
The mice who received the stem cell treatments showed an almost complete recovery from their condition, rapidly losing weight and experiencing a more normalized ability to process glucose. Meanwhile, the mice that had received only the insulin-sensitizing drugs did lose weight, but remained unable to properly process glucose and continued to experience dangerous blood sugar highs and lows.
"Our data suggest that transplanted human embryonic stem-cell (hESC)-derived insulin-producing cells thrive following chronic exposure to high-fat diets, at least in immunodeficient mice. Thus, stem cells are candidates for restoring functional beta cells in an insulin-resistant, obese setting," the researchers wrote in their report.
Of course, no similar experiments have been done on humans yet, but the researchers are optimistic about the potential of stem cell therapies for Type 2 diabetes in humans, especially when combined with anti-diabetic medications.
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