Saturday, October 11, 2014

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour - Type 1 diabetes Breakthrough

UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour

 Type 1 diabetes Breakthrough

Very exciting news from the BBC that a hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes has taken a "tremendous step forward", according to scientists.
The disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels.
But now a team at Harvard University have used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory.
Tests on mice showed that the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as "potentially a major medical breakthrough".
Normally, beta cells in the pancreas pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels.
But the body's own immune system can turn against the beta cells, destroying them and leaving people with a potentially fatal disease because they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels.
It is different to the far more common type 2 diabetes that is largely due to poor lifestyle.
Prof Doug Melton who began the search for a cure when his son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 23 years ago, led the team at Harvard. He then had a daughter who also developed the disease.
He is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells, using stem cell technology.
Tests on mice with type 1 diabetes that is published in the journal Cell showed that the lab-made cells could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels for several months.
Dr Melton said: "It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible.
"We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line."
However, his children were not quite so impressed: "I think, like all kids, they always assumed that if I said I'd do this, I'd do it."
Prof Chris Mason, a stem cell scientist at University College London, said: "A scientific breakthrough is to make functional cells that cure a diabetic mouse, but a major medical breakthrough is to be able to manufacture at large enough scale the functional cells to treat all diabetics.
"This research is therefore a scientific and potentially a major medical breakthrough.
"If this scalable technology is proven to work in both the clinic and in the manufacturing facility, the impact on the treatment of diabetes will be a medical game-changer on a par with antibiotics and bacterial infections."
Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio – Medical News Update on the Hour
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