Regeneration of insulin in breakthrough diabetes discovery

July 26, 2022
Regeneration of insulin in breakthrough diabetes discovery

A novel study from Monash University in Australia suggests insulin production could be restored in patients with type 1 diabetes, with the help of an existing drug used to treat cancer. The findings of the study could revamp and inform new treatments for diabetes.

Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreatic beta cells – the hormone is crucial to proper management of blood glucose levels. However, pancreatic beta cells regularly die off in patients with type 1 diabetes, who are then required to take lifelong supplementary insulin shots to manage the condition.

In a new study, researchers from Monash University were able to activate pancreatic stem cells from donors with type 1 diabetes with the help of a drug compound known as GSK126. The treated pancreatic stem cells were steadily producing insulin.

The researchers believe a single course of this kind of treatment over a few days could replace the need for regular insulin shots in diabetics. The new treatment would work much faster, within a matter of days, and without the need for surgery or hospitalisation from complications that may arise.

“Patients rely on daily insulin injections to replace what would have been produced by the pancreas. Currently, the only other effective therapy requires pancreatic islet transplantation and while this has improved health outcomes for individuals with diabetes, transplantation relies on organ donors, so it has limited widespread use,” said Professor El-Osta from the Monash Department of Diabetes.

“Before you get to patients, there are many issues to be resolved [and] more work is required to define the properties of these cells and establish protocols to isolate and expand them. I would think therapy is pretty far away,” said diabetes expert Dr. Keith Al-Hasani.

“However, this represents an important step along the way to devising a lasting treatment that might be applicable for all types of diabetes.”

The researchers have been commended on developing this revolutionary technique to regenerate insulin cells without the ethical concerns that are commonly associated with stem cells.

Category: Education, Features, Medical breakthrough

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