Here is some encouraging news from The Harvard Stem Cell Institute about the treatment of Diabetes! Read on...
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Diabetes Breakthrough Could Mean A Cure
Researchers have successfully used a hormone to stimulate the production of insulin-secreting beta cells in mice, according to a new study, which could one day lead to a cure for diabetes.
By Amir Khan, Everyday Health Staff Writer
THURSDAY, April 25, 2013 — A diabetes breakthrough could mean the end of daily insulin injections for type 2 diabetics, according to a new study published in the journal Cell. Researchers from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute found that by using the hormone betarophin in mice, they were able to increase production of insulin-producing cells 30 fold — a finding that researchers say is not only applicable to humans, but could lead to a cure for diabetes.
Our idea here is relatively simple," Doug Melton, PhD, study author and co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, said in a statement. "We would provide this hormone, the type 2 diabetic will make more of their own insulin-producing cells, and this will slow down, if not stop, the progression of their diabetes. I've never seen any treatment that causes such an enormous leap in beta cell replication."
Even though the research was conducted in mice, researchers said betatrophin exists in humans, which indicates that the findings should hold up.
"If this could be used in people,"Dr. Melton said in a statement, "it could eventually mean that instead of taking insulin injections three times a day, you might take an injection of this hormone once a week or once a month, or in the best case maybe even once a year."
A treatment utilizing this hormone could be in clinical trials within three to five years, researchers wrote in the study.
Diabetics lose their ability to produce insulin-producing cells known as beta cells, and this treatment works by stimulating their production. Scott Drab, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy and therapeutics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy and a diabetes specialist, said that this is the first treatment to really get to the key issue in diabetes.
“The problem in diabetes has always been that there’s a progressive, relentless deterioration of these beta cells,” he said. “That’s why this means so much for the patients, because that’s the underlying problem of the disease. Sometime in the future, if this pans out, we can give this in a drug form and cause beta cells to regrow. It’s amazing.”
By the time most diabetics are diagnosed, they have already lost between 50 to 70 percent of their beta cells, Dr. Drab said. While there are current treatments aimed at stimulating existing beta cells to secrete more insulin, no treatment has been able to stimulate their reproduction.
“So we’re talking about a hormone that will regenerate these lost beta cells,” he said. “That’s why these findings are so significant. They’re not just stimulating the beta cells, they’re causing them to reproduce.”
Dr. Drab cautioned that the research is still preliminary.
“It’s too early to tell, but based on the research, it appears that humans also have this hormone,” he said. “Can the findings be translated into humans yet? No, but this is very promising.”
But if the findings do hold true, Drab said, it could mean that we are much closer to a cure for diabetes.
“If we can just give patients a hormone that regenerates the beta cells,” he said, “then we just cured diabetes.”