Stem cell-based implants successfully secrete insulin in patients with type 1 diabetes


Summary:  Interim results from a multicenter clinical trial demonstrate insulin secretion from engrafted cells in patients with type 1 diabetes. The safety, tolerability, and efficacy of the implants, which consisted of pancreatic endoderm cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), were tested in 26 patients. While the insulin secreted by the implants did not have clinical effects in the patients, the data are the first reported evidence of meal-regulated insulin secretion by differentiated stem cells in human patients.

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Using Stem Cells To Understand Diabetes

Using Stem Cells To Understand Diabetes

If you have diabetes, you know how tiring it can be trying to regulate your blood sugar and making sure you stay healthy. This is especially true when your treatments and medications stop working. This is why a lot of people are turning to regenerative medicine for help. Stem cell therapy for diabetes is a new and innovative treatment that could help you regulate your sugar levels and make sure they remain in a safe range. Finding the right team to provide these procedures is essential because you want to be sure that they are someone you can trust. If you’re in the Miami area Stem Cell Miami can sit with you to go over your treatment options and how they can help treat your diabetes.


Understanding Stem Cell Therapy For Diabetes

Regenerative medicine has been used over the past few years for a number of different diseases and conditions. Most commonly it has been used to treat and relieve chronic pain. However, thanks to new advancements in technology and medicine stem cell therapy are now being used to treat patients with diabetes. Stem cells are helping doctors understand how diabetes affects the human body and how our body processes and breaks down sugar. Stem cell research is also being conducted to answer some crucial questions about the two different types of diabetes that people suffer from. In type 1 diabetes researchers are trying to figure out why the immune system begins to attack the body’s beta cells and no other cells in the pancreas or other organs. In type 2 diabetes they are trying to discover what exactly causes the resistance to insulin. The research being done is allowing doctors to track diabetes from a very early stage, which is usually before a person even knows they have the disease. The reason this is so important is that it is allowing people to examine and understand what occurs in the body that causes diabetes to develop and what genetic conditions are contributing to its development. It is also enabling researchers to identify similarities and differences between patients. The hope of this research is that doctors will be able to diagnose patients earlier, which will allow them to come up with a treatment plan to prevent the diabetes from getting worse and progressing.


Although a stem-cell based treatment for diabetes is still years away, the doctors and researchers are examining how stem cell therapy can restore the function of the body’s beta cells in patients with diabetes. The goal is to ultimately replace the lost beta cells as well as provide protection to these cells from future damage.


This treatment can make beta cells from embryonic stem cells (please not that Stem Cell Miami doe snot treat using embryonic cells at this time). These cells can be grown in a large quantity in a lab and have the ability to regenerate into any type of cell in the body once they are injected back into the patient. This includes glucose sensing and insulin-producing beta cells, which in the treatment of diabetes can be life-changing. Stem cell therapy can also allow beta cells to multiply and make copies of themselves. Beta cells can naturally do this in the pancreas, but it usually happens very slowly especially in a person with diabetes.


Contact Us

Stem Cell Miami is a regenerative medicine specialist that is devoted to the well-being of each one of our patients. We specialize in stem cell therapy for diabetes and a number of other treatments. If you are in the Miami area call or visit us today to find out how we can help you!

New hope for stem cell approach to treating diabetes – Washington University Study

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have tweaked the recipe for coaxing human stem cells into insulin-secreting beta cells and shown that the resulting cells are more responsive to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood. Here, the new beta cells appear red as they secrete insulin in response to glucose.
Credit: Millman lab, Washington Universityientists working to develop more effective treatments for diabetes are turning to stem cells. Such cells can be transformed into cells that produce insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar.

But there’s a major challenge: the amount of insulin produced by theses cells is difficult to control.

Now, by tweaking the recipe for coaxing human stem cells into insulin-secreting beta cells, a team of researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that the resulting cells are more responsive to fluctuating glucose levels in the blood.


When they transplanted the beta cells into mice that could not make insulin, the new cells began secreting insulin within a few days, and they continued to control blood sugar in the animals for months.

The new study is published Jan. 17 in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

“We’ve been able to overcome a major weakness in the way these cells previously had been developed. The new insulin-producing cells react more quickly and appropriately when they encounter glucose,” said principal investigator Jeffrey R. Millman, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine and of biomedical engineering. “The cells behave much more like beta cells in people who don’t have diabetes.”

The researchers now believe it may be time to evaluate whether the same stem-cell approach could produce insulin and effectively control blood sugar in people.

Millman was a part of a research team at Harvard that, in 2014, converted skin cells into stem cells and, in 2016, did the same thing with skin cells from a patient with diabetes. Each time, the stem cells were then treated with various growth factors to coax them into insulin-secreting beta cells. The beta cells, however, didn’t work as well as the researchers had hoped.

“Previously, the beta cells we manufactured could secrete insulin in response to glucose, but they were more like fire hydrants, either making a lot of insulin or none at all,” he said. “The new cells are more sensitive and secrete insulin that better corresponds to the glucose levels.”

For this study, Millman’s laboratory still grew beta cells from human stem cells, but they made numerous changes to the “recipe” for producing insulin-producing beta cells, treating the cells with different factors at different times as they grew and developed to help the cells mature and function more effectively.

After that process was complete, the researchers transplanted the beta cells into diabetic mice with suppressed immune systems so that they wouldn’t reject the human cells. Those transplanted cells produced insulin at levels that effectively controlled blood sugar in the mice, functionally curing their diabetes for several months, which, for most of the mice in the study, was about the length of their lives.

As laboratory researcher rather than a clinician, Millman said he can’t predict exactly when such cells may be ready for human trials but believes there are at least two ways that stem cell-derived beta cells could be tested in human patients.

“The first would be to encapsulate the cells in something like a gel — with pores small enough to prevent immune cells from getting in but large enough to allow insulin to get out,” he said. “Another idea would be to use gene-editing tools to alter the genes of beta cells in ways that would allow them to ‘hide’ from the immune system after implantation.”

Millman said that if stem cell-derived beta cells are proven safe and effective for people with diabetes, his method of manufacturing the cells quickly could be ramped up to an industrial scale. In his laboratory alone, his team is able to grow and develop more than a billion beta cells in just a few weeks.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Washington University School of MedicineNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Leonardo Velazco-Cruz, Jiwon Song, Kristina G. Maxwell, Madeleine M. Goedegebuure, Punn Augsornworawat, Nathaniel J. Hogrebe, Jeffrey R. Millman. Acquisition of Dynamic Function in Human Stem Cell-Derived β CellsStem Cell Reports, 2019; DOI: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.12.012



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