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India tops in development of Stem cell treatment, also it can be a pathbreaking Therapy for Diabetes, Autism

Stem cell therapy has turned out to be a ray of hope for most patients who are trying to find a cure for incurable diseases

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Doctors operating on a patient (representational image), Pixabay

Jan 18, 2017: Stem cell therapy has turned out to be a ray of hope for most patients who are trying to find a cure for incurable diseases. Researchers and experts believe India has been at the top in the development of stem cell treatment followed by several other countries like China and Japan. However, due to lack of awareness, most people don’t think of stem cell therapy as an option for treating most of the incurable diseases.

One of the major issues that India is battling is increasing incidence of diabetes and autism. According to reports, more than 10 million children in India suffer from autism. About 1 to 1.5 per cent of such children are aged 2-9. Autism by far is a mental condition which is present from early childhood, characterised by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts, and also characterised by weakened social interface, weakened communication and indulging in repetitive behaviour.

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In the case of diabetes, it is one of the most talked-about diseases across the world and especially in India, but awareness on this is still low. Diabetes generally occurs due to failure or damage of the cells that produce insulin in the pancreas called Beta cells. Diabetes can be classified into 2 types: Type 1 (T1DM) and Type 2 (T2DM).

Stem cells are part of the human body and have the unique ability of naturally finding and repairing the place of damage within. Over the past two decades, it has been made possible to treat T1DM by transplanting islet cells or even whole pancreas from cadaveric donors (allogenic transplantation). Transplants can enable the body to regain control of blood sugar levels so that insulin injections are no longer needed.

Islet transplantations are not very common, because whole pancreas transplants involve major surgery and carry significant risk. Transplants require the immune system to be suppressed so that the new “alien” organ is not rejected. Immuno-suppressant drugs leave the recipient vulnerable to infections and often have side-effects. One of the biggest problems faced by islet transplantation is the lack of donors.

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This can be overcome by using patient’s own stem cells (autologous transplantation), bypassing all the complications, rejections and side-effects. Research has shown that stem cells present in the patient’s pancreas are able to make new Beta cells. Beta cell progenitors have been found in the pancreas of both rodents and humans; it may be possible to grow islet cells from patient’s existing islet cells. Alternately, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) treatment is also being explored. These can be sourced from the patient’s own adipose tissue (fat), umbilical cord, menstrual fluid, bone marrow and the like.

Clinical trials inserting MSCs into Type 1 diabetes patients take advantage of two properties of these cells. Firstly, they have the regenerative potential to repair Beta cells and, secondly, they can modulate the immune system by inhibiting the responses that lead to the auto-immune attack on pancreatic Beta cells. Since these stem cells come from the patient’s own body, there is also no risk of rejection or side-effects. MSCs may be injected intravenously or within the pancreas itself. This approach promotes Beta cell function, thereby reducing or eliminating the requirement for exogenous insulin.

The central government is also planning to curb the growing incidence of diabetes by stringent measures, including higher taxes and stricter advertisement norms to regulate sale of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food.

Clinical trials are also under way for autism. Experts believe the umbilical cord stem cells are ideal for treating this because they allow doctors to administer uniform doses as they don’t require collection of stem cells from the patient considering it could be a laborious process for child and the parent. Because they are collected right after birth, umbilical cord-derived cells are much more potent than their “older” counterparts like bone marrow-derived cells.

With trials under way, stem cell therapy could be an effective solution in treating autism and Type 1 diabetes rather than harmful drugs. (IANS)

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Fish Oil Pills have Little or No Effect on Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

According to the team from University of East Anglia (UEA), omega 3 supplements offer no benefit

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Fish Oil, Pills, Diabetes
Increased consumption of omega 3 fats is widely promoted because of a common belief that it will protect against, or even reverse, conditions such as diabetes. Pixabay

If you are popping fish oil supplements to protect yourself against diabetes, you may be mistaken. According to the researchers, Omega-3 fats have little or no effect on risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Increased consumption of omega 3 fats is widely promoted because of a common belief that it will protect against, or even reverse, conditions such as diabetes.

According to the team from University of East Anglia (UEA), omega 3 supplements offer no benefit.

“Our previous research has shown that long-chain omega 3 supplements, including fish oils, do not protect against conditions such as heart disease, stroke or death. This review shows that they do not prevent or treat diabetes either,” said Dr Lee Hooper, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School.

Fish Oil, Pills, Diabetes
If you are popping fish oil supplements to protect yourself against diabetes, you may be mistaken. Pixabay

“Omega-3 supplements should not be encouraged for diabetes prevention or treatment,” he added.

If people do choose to take supplementary fish oil capsules to treat or prevent diabetes, or to reduce levels of triglycerides in their blood, then they should use doses of less than 4.4 grams per day to avoid possible negative outcomes.

“The most trustworthy studies consistently showed little or no effect of long-chain omega 3 fats on diabetes,” said the paper.

Omega 3 is a type of fat. Small amounts are essential for good health and can be found in the food that we eat. Omega 3 fats are also readily available as over-the-counter supplements and they are widely bought and used.

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The research team assessed the effects of long-chain omega-3 fats, ALA, omega-6 and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – taken as supplementary capsules, or via enriched or naturally rich foods.

Participants included men and women, some healthy and others with existing diabetes, from North America, South America, Europe, Australia and Asia, in studies published from the 1960s until 2018.

Participants were randomly assigned to increase their polyunsaturated fats or to maintain their usual intake for at least six months.

There was clearly no effect of increasing long-chain omega-3 fats on diabetes, but there was insufficient information from trials of ALA, omega-6 or total polyunsaturated fats to assess either protective or harmful effects.

Fish Oil, Pills, Diabetes
According to the researchers, Omega-3 fats have little or no effect on risk of Type 2 diabetes. Pixabay

The results show that increasing long-chain omega-3 had little or no effect on diabetes diagnosis or glucose metabolism, but high doses, at levels found in some supplements, could worsen glucose metabolism.

“Oily fish can be a very nutritious food as part of a balanced diet, but we did not find enough trials that encouraged participants to eat more oily fish to know whether it is useful in preventing diabetes or improving glucose metabolism,” said Dr Julii Brainard from Norwich Medical School.

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“Future trials need to measure and assess baseline omega-3 intakes, and assess effects of eating more oily fish — not just supplements,” she added. (IANS)