Stem Cells Therapy the Future of Diabetes Treatment?

Stem cell therapy may be able to help treat Type 2 diabetes. Irv Weissman is currently leading a laboratory called the Weissman Laboratories at Stanford School of Medicine’s Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine program. Weissman spent study years researching the use of stem cells, where one third of women who received cancer free stem cells were still alive, without any disease versus 7% of women who were alive, but never received cancer free cells.

Weissman is now at Stanford University to start conducting human trials using stem cells and will start a pure stem cell transplant center. Juvenile diabetes as well as other juvenile illnesses such as “bubble boy” disease will be one of the disease that will be trialled. The process will involved taking purified blood stem cells will be from a related donor of an unaffected disease to be given to a patient with a disease. Before the clinical trials began, all animal models used during stem cells studies showed success as well as much promise for regenerative medicine.

A study published in the journal Stem Cell Reports showed that transplanting pancreatic stem cells from human cells into mice with Type 2 diabetes symptoms showed improvement. Another study was done using animals with type 1 diabetes. Blood was taken from stem cells from a donor without diabetes. Insulin producing cells in a healthy pancreas were transplanted into a diabetic animal model and showed improvement. Currently, this same technique will be used in human trials at Stanford. Different techniques will be used as well as the use of embryonic stem cells taken from a diabetes affected donor to be reprogrammed and transplanted back into the same donor. This technique will not only create a huge leap in the treatment of diabetes and other immunocompromised diseases but also become a platform in the way we treat these diseases. Many labs around the US and the world are currently also working to get every tissue specific stem cell and start trials using other diseases. If successful, stem cell therapy can soon even replace harmful chemotherapy.