Saturday, December 13, 2014

Scientific Breakthrough in Stem Cell as Effective Treatment For Type 1 Diabetes


My daughter has had T1 diabetes for five years already.  Any progress in technology and medicine, even if it's not a full-blown cure, is tremendously welcome.  My husband still struggle with the thought that she'll have to probably live with this for the rest of her life, but I refuse to, as I've claimed healing for her.
Mark 5:34
He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering."
Just now, my husband broke the news and was glad to share the announcements made by Harvard last October.  Call it press release, call it good news, call it breakthrough, which way you call it, it sound music to our ears.


Researcher Douglas Melton and his team have discovered a method to transform human embryonic stem cells into insulin-producing cells which can then be injected into the pancreas. The discovery has generated a new wave of momentum in the field, with research labs across the country already working to replicate and build upon Melton’s results.

The thing with my daughter's condition and probably with the many other diagnosed Type 1 Diabetics is that hers is an autoimmune in which the body attacks insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Because insulin is not produced, the body is unable to regulate blood glucose levels.

While sufferers can maintain relatively normal blood glucose levels with daily insulin injections, it is often not precise enough to properly control metabolism, which can lead to serious complications such as blindness. Researchers have therefore been exploring new ways to tackle the disease in order to overcome these problems. Given the vast therapeutic potential of stem cells, scientists wondered whether it might be possible to replace the beta cells in diabetic patients as a novel form of therapy.

Although scientists previously managed to produce insulin-producing cells from human stem cells, they lacked many of the functional characteristics of pancreatic beta cells. However, the new technique pioneered by Harvard scientists allowed the team to produce hundreds of millions of mature beta cells from stem cells. These are remarkably similar to adult beta cells in that they respond to glucose and secrete insulin in quantities comparable to normal functioning cells.

Photo credit here
This study was published in Cell.  The researchers developed a 30-day, six-step process that transforms embryonic stem cells into pancreatic beta cells, the same sugar-regulating cells that are destroyed by the immune system of people with type 1 diabetes. The new cells can read the levels of sugars that enter the body after, say, a meal, and secrete the perfect dose of insulin to balance sugar levels.  However, this has only been tested on mice.

This is a shameless act of paranoia, but I'm excusing ourselves, though we are a family of self-confessed foodie, it's hard to live with the guilty-thought that someone in the family could not really enjoy the usual food non-diabetics relish with and it's even hard enough to reinvent low GI dishes from our usual fare.

Now, as we go to bed, we carry this prayer and cry to our Lord Jesus that His promise for healing (not only for our daughter but to many who suffer as well) is well-nigh.


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