Cure for Type 1 Diabetes Gets Closer

Pancreatic Transplant cures rats' type 2 diabetes mellitus without need for antirejection medication : Sept. 12, 2006

A medical technique proven to cure a rat with type 1 or juvenile-onset diabetes mellitus was also effective for a rat of type 2, also known as adult-onset diabetes, according to a new report from doctors at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Commenting on the possiblity of a cure for diabetes:

"Finding that we can cure type 2 diabetes in the same way is very significant because in humans type 2 diabetes is almost 20 times more prevalent than type 1 diabetes," says senior author Marc R. Hammerman, M.D., the Chromalloy Professor of Renal Diseases in Medicine. "There are about 200 million type 2 diabetics worldwide, and the incidence is rapidly increasing."

The technique in question transplants precursors of the pancreas from pig embryos. In a previous study, Hammerman and co-developer Sharon A. Rogers,proved that they were able to transplant the pancreatic cells in a way that lets them transform into healthy insulin producing cells that do not trigger attacks by the rats' immune systems. This cured the rats' diabetes without needing immunosuppressive drugs vital to prevent rejection in other transplant-based treatments. This is a major break though in the search for a cure for diabetes.

Hammerman and Rogers are leaders in the revolutionary field of organogenesis, which focuses on growing organs from stem cells and other embryonic cell clusters known as 'organ primordia'. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which may transform into any cell type, primordia are locked into changing to cells of a exact organ.

Their system of diabetes treatment makes use of pancreatic primordia from pigs. In previous studies, they established that taking the primordia when the pigs were young caused them to be "invisible" to the immune defense system, meaning there was no need for immunosuppression medication.

In the latest study they transplanted the pig primordia into a strain of rat with a malady that closely resembles human type 2 diabetes.

The outcome was just the same - the diabetes was cured without needing immunosuppression drugs.

Although it is not yet time to state that this will lead to a cure for diabetes in humans, it is a enormous stride in the right direction.

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