Diabetes Treatment Found; Cell Implant For Insulin Production Shows Revolutionary Results In Studies

First Posted: Dec 14, 2016 02:24 AM EST

Researchers have recently found that genetically engineered human kidney cells implanted under the skin can produce insulin for several weeks and control diabetes without the need of taking insulin injections. The method was found effective in the treatment of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in rat models.

A group of scientists at the ETH University in Basel, Switzerland, under the leadership of Professor Martin Fussenegger, found that these engineered cells can successfully measure the blood glucose levels and then secrete the required amount of insulin. According to Express, this breakthrough in diabetes research may be highly helpful in the treatment of millions of diabetic patients around the world. This discovery can also eliminate the need of injecting insulin on a daily basis, which can help save a lot of money spent every year in the production and distribution of insulin by the NHS.

Prof. Fussenegger said that the genetically engineered cells "worked better and for longer than any solution achieved anywhere in the world so far." He further added, "It's hard to understand why ours should be better than something that evolved for millions of years."

The study was published in the Science journal and is highly appreciated among the peers. Dr. Emily Burns, Research Communications Manager, Diabetes UK, commented that, "We can already replace the cells in the pancreas that are damaged in Type 1 diabetes by using cells taken from donated pancreases but one of the issues with this approach is that there aren't enough donors."

She stressed on the fact that, "That's why research like this is so important: finding ways to produce an unlimited supply of pancreatic cells, or cells that act like them, in the lab."

The study, however, is in its nascent stage and the results shown are on the tests conducted on experimental rat modes. "It's still early days as strategies like this haven't been tested in people yet but it is a really promising area of research that could benefit people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the future," Dr. Burns said.

Testing the results in clinical level studies and trials in the future may augment the chances of applicability of this treatment method in humans.

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