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Human Stem Cells Can Now Help Treat Diabetes

By Staff

Diabetes is one of the major lifestyle diseases affecting people globally, and the number seems to be escalating further. Sedentary lifestyle, lack of regular exercise and stress are considered to be the major cause for the rising number.

Also one serious concern with diabetes is that the treatment is just directed towards controlling the symptoms, as such there is no total cure for the disease.

A new study has found that human stem cells can be used to produce insulin-producing cells that in the future can be transplanted into diabetes patients. Well, this can be one of the good news for those ailing with diabetes and those who have diabetics in their family.

So first let us dwell a bit into what exactly is diabetes?

Diabetes is a condition in which the blood glucose or blood sugar levels are too high. There are two major types of diabetes - Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes the body does not make insulin and in case of Type 2 diabetes the body does not make or use insulin well. Over 415 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes globally.

So, when the body is not able to produce sufficient amounts of insulin it will not be able to regulate the blood sugar in the body. This in turn cal lead to several other health complications and if not taken care of on time then it might turn fatal as well.

About The Study:

During the course of the study, researchers examined how the body creates the complex piping systems that transport fluids and gases in our organs to understand the machinery for instructing progenitor cells into their different destinies.

"By identifying the signals that instruct mouse progenitor cells to become cells that make tubes and later insulin-producing beta cells, we can transfer this knowledge to human stem cells to more robustly make beta cells," said Henrik Semb, Professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

The researchers discovered that the same signal, the so-called epidermal growth factor (EGF) pathway controls both the formation of pipes and beta cells through polarity changes.

"Therefore, the development of pancreatic progenitor into beta cells depends on their orientation in the pipes," the researchers explained.

While the study was mainly based on tests performed on mice, the researchers found that the same cell maturation mechanism applies to the development of human cells.

"Now we can use this knowledge to more efficiently turn human stem cells into beta cells in the laboratory with the hope to use them to replace lost beta cells in patients suffering from diabetes," Semb stated.

The findings showed that regulation of cell polarity (Cell polarity is the asymmetric organisation of several cellular components, including its plasma membrane, cytoskeleton or organelles) is the key to the development of many other human cell types, for example nerve cells as well for transmitting signals in neurons.

The study was recently published in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

(With Agency Inputs)

Read more about: stem cells diabetes
Story first published: Wednesday, November 8, 2017, 12:16 [IST]
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