Scientists find possible cure for type 1 diabetes in men
When Murray Head sang “I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine” in the 1980s pop song “One Night in Bangkok,” it’s clear he had no idea how important the area below the waist would become in the battle to find a cure for diabetes. The Mail Online reports that researchers from Georgetown University Medical Care in Washington, D.C., have discovered that medical science may soon be able to use testicular tissue to create healthy cells that can further the cause of curing diabetes in men. Tests run on diabetic lab mice have successfully reproduced millions of replacement cells that produced enough insulin to control blood sugar levels.
Curing diabetes in men: Five years away
In response to the American study, British scientists have cautioned that human application of spermatogonial stem cells as a cure for diabetes is “many years” away. The Georgetown team is more optimistic. They anticipate a five-year window in which a type 1 diabetes cure will be produced for men and boys. Type 1 diabetics need regular insulin injections to regulate blood sugar, so this groundbreaking stem cell application could lead to a major improvement in quality of life.
Beta islet cells are the key
Spermatogonial stem cells would normally go on to become male sperm cells, but the Georgetown study converted them into cells that produce insulin via exposure to a variety of vitamins and growth hormone. The spermatogonial stem cells became master stem cells, then beta islet cells like those that produce insulin in the pancreas. According to a presentation given to the American Society of Cell Biology, the entire process took about five weeks. The pancreatic beta islet cells effectively controlled blood sugar in the diabetic mice for about a week. Researchers believe that it is possible to make the beta islet cells work “much longer.”
Unlocking the potential of spermatogonial stem cells
Eventually, scientists believe that the stem cell technique can be adapted to work with egg cells in addition to sperm cell, so curing diabetes in women will be possible. Considering that a diabetic’s own cells would be used to create the necessary beta islet pancreatic cells to produce potent insulin, there would be no chance that the body would reject the cells.