Scientists have just made a huge leap in terms of finding a potential cure for diabetes, as a team have reportedly successfully cured the disease in mice within a matter of weeks.
The condition, which affects more than 400 million people across the globe, is currently regarded as incurable.
However, researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis have just proved it’s possible to cure diabetes in mice in just a few short weeks.
According to the university, researchers used human cells to keep the disease at bay for at least nine months, and up to a year in some mice.
Researchers used a substance known as streptozotocin to give the mice severe diabetes. However, the human cells implanted in the animals managed to successfully control the creatures’ blood sugar levels and therefore cure the disease.
They used the human cells to generate pancreatic beta cells, which are known to secrete insulin, the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
Diabetes is caused by the fact some people are unable to produce sufficient insulin to control their blood sugar levels.
Dr Jeffrey R. Millman, an assistant professor of medicine and of biomedical engineering, said:
These mice had very severe diabetes with blood sugar readings of more than 500 milligrams per deciliter of blood – levels that could be fatal for a person – and when we gave the mice the insulin-secreting cells, within two weeks their blood glucose levels had returned to normal and stayed that way for many months.
The key part of this experiment is the production of the cells that secret insulin. However, this can also lead to the creation of unwanted cell types too. For example, in creating the beta cells, other pancreatic or liver cells can emerge. While they are not harmful, they do affect the overall ‘therapeutic value’ of the method as they can impact how many beta cells are needed to tackle a subject’s diabetes.
At this stage it is sadly too soon to tell whether a cure for diabetes in humans is on the horizon, however the findings definitely encourage the idea that some mammals can be cured of the disease, even if it is temporarily.
Here’s to hoping we’re one step closer to achieving a cure for a condition which affects the lives of so many people, all over the world.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.