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Human Stem Cell Transplants Successfully Reversed Diabetes In Mice 92

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists successfully reversed diabetes in mice by transplanting mice human stem cells into mice in a discovery that may lead to way to finding a cure for a disease that affects 8.3 percent of the U.S. population. ... In an experiment designed to mimic human clinical conditions, researchers were able to wean diabetic mice off of insulin four months after the rodents were transplanted with human pancreatic stem cells (abstract). [They] were able to recreate the 'feedback loop' that enabled insulin levels to automatically rise or fall based on the rodents' blood glucose levels. Additionally, researchers found that the mice were able to maintain healthy blood sugar levels even after they were fed large quantities of sugar. After several months, researchers removed the transplanted cells from the mice and found that the cells had all the markings of normal insulin-producing pancreatic cells."
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Human Stem Cell Transplants Successfully Reversed Diabetes In Mice

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  • Science (Score:5, Funny)

    by DamienRBlack ( 1165691 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @02:24AM (#40509085)
    It works, bitches.
    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      I knew they were close, but this is awesome.
      Quick, give me a date and take my money!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 01, 2012 @02:34AM (#40509103)

    Very cool, but when considering the public health implications of diabetes research, keep in mind that this is type 1 diabetes they're describing, in which pancreatic beta cells don't produce insulin. The growing diabetic epidemic (pardon the pun) is largely (ok ok, I'm done...really) type 2, in which obesity-related factors overwhelm the body's ability to produce insulin. What the researchers are describing is unlikely to have any impact on type 2, and type 2 accounts for over 90% of diabetes in western nations.

    Type 1 diabetes will be likely wiped from the planet in the next two decades -- by stem cells, monoclonal antibodies, or other therapy. There's a lot of good work going on here. Good riddance. And cheers to the researchers who make it happen. But the diabetes people inflict on themselves isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Type 2 can typically be cured by weight loss, so scientists tend not to focus on curing the already curable.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The parent post has no idea what they're talking about.

        • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @10:20AM (#40510323)

          Agreed. The "diet can cure diabetes" meme is so much popsci crap. Blood sugar in type 2s can be managed with diet, to some degree, by some people. There is no "cure." Moreover, the stem cell treatment that may work for type 1 diabetics probably won't work for type 2 diabetics. Type 2 diabetics often have insulin. Their bodies just can't use the insulin that's there. Adding more doesn't necessarily help.

          Sorry. Having lived with a type 2 diabetic for the last decade makes me touchy about the topic.

          • by Jethro ( 14165 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @01:57PM (#40511511) Homepage

            This is, sadly, true.

            I have never been obese, but I did abuse my body with sugary treats which is likely what lead to me having type 2 diabetes. I tried meds and frankly they just made things worse (the closest I came to obese was directly because of diabetes meds). So I tried diet and exercise. And it works for me. First, my glucose level NEVER hits 500 anymore, and if I go run a few miles every day and don't eat a hell of a lot of carbs, it stays at very normal levels. As a side-effect I'm also in the best physical shape I've been in my entire life.

            But that's not a cure, that's treatment. If I ate a kit kat right this minute, my glucose level would spike to ~180 and stay there for hours. I can't ever eat a big bowl of pasta, or make an awesome grilled cheese sandwich (well I can make it, but I can't eat it).

            Doctors tell me (once they're stopped being shocked that my a1c level is well below 7) that yeah this treatment is working now, but statistically it gets a LOT harder to manage using diet and exercise as you age. And realistically, I won't be able to maintain this level of physical activity forever, so SOMEONE CURE THIS DAMN THING ALREADY. By now I have the discipline to get a lot of exercise and not eat a ton of junk food, but hell, it's 90 degrees today, I'd love to pick up a fruit smoothie on the way back from the park.

            • []
              "The dietary style described in my books entitled, Eat To Live and Eat For Health, is a vegetable-based diet designed to maximize nutrient per calorie density. It is the most effective dietary approach for those with diabetes and is much more effective than drugs. For a Type 2 diabetic, this approach has resulted in complete reversal of the diabetic condition in the vast majority of my patients, and for a Type 1 diabetic it solves the problems with excessive hig

          • Agreed. The "diet can cure diabetes" meme is so much popsci crap

            Sorry. Having lived with a type 2 diabetic for the last decade makes me touchy about the topic.

            Soo, are you fat? This is what parent was suggesting.

      • by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @04:06AM (#40509327)
        Not quite so simple. Some people have auto-immune diseases which decrease insulin production as they age and they have hyperglycemia even when below their weight. Why do you think there are so many drugs specifically for Type 2 patients? Some of them eventually have to take insulin just like a Type 1 diabetic would. Then there are the people with viral pancreatitis which have no genetic predisposition for the disease and get it anyway.
      • by mattmarlowe ( 694498 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @04:40AM (#40509411) Homepage

        Type 2 generally means that the body has developed higher levels of resistance of insulin and that the resistance has over time caused the pancreas to work so hard that not enough insulin is being produced at the time of diagnoses that body blood glucose levels are no longer kept within healthy parameters which causes the body to begin to experience accelerated aging. Type 2 patients usually also have a pancreas that is no longer capable of producing close to the normal amount insulin (the system has essentially given up and can't rebuild). So, two problems that feed on each other in a negative feedback loop...and only one is fixed by lowering weight.

        In lucky cases, where diabetes is caught early and the pancreas has not yet been irreversibly damaged...reducing weight on its own cause a resulting reduction in insulin resistance and effectively 'cure' type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately in most cases, and especially because diabetes is diagnosed in the USA via blood fasting glucose levels, those that are diagnoesed with t2 diabetes already have incurable damage to the pancreas. There is currently no known way to cure this...unless science/medicine can find a way to fix insulin production levels of the pancreas without constant stimulation from oral meds/etc (metformin is the most commonly prescribed). A better form of diagnoses is regular hba1c tests which may detect diabetes before the irreversible damage to the pancreas has happened. Also, not all increases to insulin resistance are a result of weight,....drinking excessive soda which has carmel flavoring which increases insulin resistance, not getting enough exercise on its own mean the body doesn't get lowered insulin resistance, and other things that might be associated with those that are overweight have a huge role that are completely seperate from the weight itself.

        • I get the impression Metformin is more of a block slowing up sugar uptake which reduces the amount of insulin needed to cope with the sugars and carbs.

          I take a more interesting drug which stimulates a hormone which makes my body produce more insulin when it is needed. (byetta) I've been on a new version for the last few months which is a time release version (may still not be available in the USA yet) this is a once a week injection as opposed to twice a day and also doesn't cause any nausea. I think the na

          • I get the impression Metformin is more of a block slowing up sugar uptake which reduces the amount of insulin needed to cope with the sugars and carbs.

            That's only one of the things that metformin does. Metformin primarily suppresses gluconeogenesis in the liver, and secondarily increases insulin sensitivity. Far down the list is decreased absorption of glucose in the GI tract.

      • Type 2 can typically be cured by weight loss, so scientists tend not to focus on curing the already curable.

        Really? I guess at 6'5 and 195 lbs, I could stand to lose some weight to cure my Type II diabetes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      T2 is looking more like a problem with carb intake than fat. not just soda but bread, pasta, etc whole grain is a myth because grain of any form seems to hit the body as hard as pure glucose. one possible cause is excess glucose dumping by the liver overwhelming the bodies insulin production rate. insulin resistance may be caused by spikes in insulin production in response to carb consumption contains a good set of pointers to original sources challenging many of the points made about t

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        In other words, the buttheads blathering on about low fat this and low fat that caused a generation to pound down the carbs (since fat is a big contributor to the sense of satiety that makes people stop eating) and get T2.

    • by Snaller ( 147050 )

      People don't inflect diabetes on themselves. A greedy corrupt society does.

    • You're a little off (as is TFA): in type 1 diabetes, the beta cells are actually killed off by the immune system. That also means that transplanting in new beta cells is only half of the solution, even if they're genetically identical to the person's original beta cells, because you also need to stop the immune system from attacking the new cells. In TFA, the mice had suppressed immune systems, but current immunosuppression drugs are pretty nasty, and cause a lot of other problems, worse than the original d
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @02:39AM (#40509119) Journal
    TFA has a couple of caveats worth noting(aside from the usual "'works in mice means' maybe a decade out for you, sickie"):

    The research was on Type I diabetes, aimed at restoring insulin production, not Type II and reversing insulin resistance.

    Also: "The studies were performed in diabetic mice that lacked a properly functioning immune system that would otherwise have rejected the cells. We now need to identify a suitable way of protecting the cells from immune attack so that the transplant can ultimately be performed in the absence of any immunosuppression". That could prove to be a big one, given the relationship between the Type I and patient's immune system destroying their own pancreatic cells, for reasons somewhat murky. If the patient's own immune system is already killing their own cells, I don't envy the research team that has to keep a transplanted cell population alive without cratering the immune system so hard that something else kills the patient...
    • Living Cell Technology is basically doing this in a way with the porcine implantations, the piggy cells are encapsulated in a permeable coating that allows them to function but disguises them to the human body.

    • All that is true and accurate. However, Type I diabetes has typically a much more devastating outcome.

    • I mean basically you could cure Type 1 diabetes mellitus(Yes, there's other kinds of diabetes like diabetes insipidus) by just giving the person a pancreas transplant. Hmm, wonder if they could do theraputic cloning to get around. (Yes, I know that kind of blows a hole in that talking point "Oh, we're only going to use ESC we were going to throw away anyway." But basically if the immune system is targeting a non-essential protein just change it and ta-da all of a sudden it looks like a new kind of cell.)
    • Well the mice are likely genetically altered to attack their own pancreas to simulate Type 1 diabetes, and they were being treated with human (not mouse) stem cells.

      A human with not an immune system attacked, but merely faulty pancreas, taking stem cell treatment (using stem cells created from their own skin cells) will not likely suffer rejection.

      At least, that's what I'd hope to be the case.

  • > Human Stem Cell Transplants Successfully Reversed Diabetes In Mice


  • It's cool, but I suspect a large proportion of those who have diabetes is due to lifestyle choices - obesity, in particular, increases your risk of adult-onset diabetes. Let's see more research in areas that are less profitable but more "equitable" in benefits to folks worldwide.
    • Re:Cool, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @03:06AM (#40509187) Journal
      This research is on an animal model of Type I diabetes, which is generally not associated with 'lifestyle' causes(environmental causes are under some suspicion; but nothing like the causal clarity of Type II exists). By sheer verbal inprecision, 'diabetes' covers both types; but this research doesn't.

      It's also worth noting that, while the stubborn spectre of 'free will' hangs around to cloud the issue, 'lifestyle' diseases have a nasty habit of cropping up under their preferred economic and social conditions almost as reliably, at a population level, as their biological cousins. In the case of obesity, the wealthy bits of the developed world led the charge; but it turns out that you can develop troublingly high levels on a surprisingly low GDP per capita. Diabetes research isn't exactly in the 'altruistic research on neglected-but-horrid tropical diseases of poor people' category; but it's not exactly in the 'hair loss and limp-dick-itis' camp either...
      • I'm afraid it's worse than this. I spent a long time discussing this last week with a colleague who'd been diagnosed last year, and who's lost 30 pounds and gotten off medication. Early Type 2 diabetes can cause elevated insulin levels, which triggers hunger, which gets you to eat more, which puts on weight, which reduces your willingness to exercise and aggravates the diabetes and raises insulin levels (beause exercise makes insulin more effective), and this colleague suffered from a realy positive feedbac

    • Re:Cool, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @04:01AM (#40509311) Journal

      One problem... well, two actually:

      1) Once you start imposing your morality on what gets researched and what does not, you become no better than those who base their research on profit motive.

      2) Why should those who got Type 2 Diabetes w/o being fat have to suffer? Because you say so?

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      I know two diabetics that were quite young and thin when diagnosed. One became morbidly obese later (apparently it's hard to stay thin as a diabetic), the other has never been overweight in her life, but has still lost toes due to diabeties. That may be anecdotes but it only takes one of those to overturn a very stupid blanket example.
  • So sick of this headline science shit. "New Discovery That May Cure Cancer". "New Discovery That May Cure Parkinson's". "New Discovery That May Cure Alzheimers". Blah blah fucking blah. Come back when you actually do something.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Did you notice the HPV vaccine announcement if nothing else? Some of these things really do cure cancer.
      Come back when there's something that will fix every computer problem :)
  • That problem of course is, does it stop the body from attacking the pancreas again? That's really the big problem, same reason why islet transplants while successful have a 70% failure rate after 10 years. The body continues to attack, and in rare cases will destroy implanted islets within a year.

    • by jamesh ( 87723 )

      That problem of course is, does it stop the body from attacking the pancreas again? That's really the big problem, same reason why islet transplants while successful have a 70% failure rate after 10 years. The body continues to attack, and in rare cases will destroy implanted islets within a year.

      which is great for the medical professionals... "all done. just pay the $100000 on your way out and we'll see you again in 12 months".

      Seriously though, even a 70% failure rate after 10 years is pretty good unless the treatment is not repeatable. Managing diabetes isn't cheap.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The immunosuppressants normally given for this kind of transplant are themselves quite dangerous: they make the patient far more vulnerable to infection and certain types of cancer, and they tend to interfere with insulin, so transplant has never been popular. Look up [] for a bit more detail.

        This is why the fetal cell transplants were so exciting: they did not trigger the auto-immune problems adult transplants did, and they could be cultured to provide a large se

  • Live in a Democracy and you'll learn what life is. Thanks to a still liberal media we hear snippets of shit like this, but in a fortnight everything the media reports will be "mice cured of diabetes become zombies" or more realistically "lab mice cured of diabetes die painfully due to FDA-banned stem-cell treatment, Government bans Stem-cell testing on mice" Let's face it, there's WAY too many POOR politicians that need drug company money to let something like this actually gain a foothold in the market.
  • by neurogeneticist ( 1631367 ) on Sunday July 01, 2012 @07:41AM (#40509829)
    Genome-wide association study (GWAS) results for Type 2 diabetes suggest a much larger footprint for islet cell dysfunction in T2D than previously thought. While the "insulin resistance" paradigm still works, we've had to adapt our model to include the more disordered insulin secretion indicated by these results. This is why unbiased and hypothesis-free research methods like GWAS are so powerful -- they aren't dependent on our preconceived notions of how things "should" be. A nice review reference: Herder et al. Eur J Clin Invest. 2011;41(6):679-92.
  • Bring it on science ...

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin