Scientists are hoping a cure for Type 1 diabetes is getting closer after they managed to halt the condition for six months in an experiment involving insulin-producing cells,Sky News reports.
A team of experts from hospitals and institutions in the US, including Harvard University, have succeeded in transplanting cells into mice which immediately began producing insulin.
Within the experiment, the team showed they had found a way to prevent the body’s own immune system from knocking out the cells, meaning they continued to be effective. Type 1 diabetes affects 400,000 in the UK and the scientists hope this latest work will bring a cure a step closer.
They are now looking to try out the work on people suffering from the illness. The findings follow on from news revealed at the end of 2014 that experts had found a way to make huge quantities of insulin-producing cells.
The man who was behind that breakthrough – Professor Doug Melton from Harvard – has been trying to find a cure for the disease since his son Sam was diagnosed with it as a baby.
JDRF’s vice president of discovery research, Julia Greenstein, said: “Encapsulation therapies have the potential to be groundbreaking for people with Type 1 diabetes.
“These treatments aim to effectively establish long-term insulin independence and eliminate the daily burden of managing the disease for months, possibly years, at a time without the need for immune suppression.
“JDRF is excited by these findings and we hope to see this research progress into human clinical trials and ultimately a potential new Type 1 diabetes therapy.”
Anna Morris, interim director of research at the charity Diabetes UK, said: “Transplanting insulin-producing islet cells into a person with Type 1 diabetes is a life-changing treatment for some, but transplant rejection is still a challenge.
“This research highlights one potential way to hide the transplanted islet cells from the immune system, without the need for immuno-suppressant drugs that can come with harmful side effects.
“These findings are based on work carried out in mice, so we look forward to seeing the results of future investigations in human clinical trials. “If successful, it could open exciting possibilities for people with Type 1 diabetes.”