Tuesday February 19, 2019

Novel Hope for Stem Cell Approach to Treat Diabetes

'Another idea would be to use gene-editing tools to alter the genes of beta cells in ways that would allow them to 'hide' from the immune system after implantation.'

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Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

The researchers, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said that when they transplanted the beta cells into mice that could not make insulin, the new cells began secreting insulin within a few days, and they continued to control blood sugar in the animals for months.

‘We’ve been able to overcome a major weakness in the way these cells previously had been developed. The new insulin-producing cells react more quickly and appropriately when they encounter glucose,’ said lead author Jeffrey R. Millman, PhD, Assistant Professor.

‘The cells behave much more like beta cells in people who don’t have diabetes,’ he said.

For the study, published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, the team grew beta cells from human stem cells, but they made numerous changes to the ‘recipe’ for producing insulin-producing beta cells, treating the cells with different factors at different times as they grew and developed to help the cells mature and function more effectively.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

After that process was complete, the researchers transplanted the beta cells into diabetic mice with suppressed immune systems so that they wouldn’t reject the human cells.

Those transplanted cells produced insulin at levels that effectively controlled blood sugar in the mice, functionally curing their diabetes for several months, which, for most of the mice in the study, was about the length of their lives.

The researcher said he can’t predict exactly when such cells may be ready for human trials but believes there are at least two ways that stem cell-derived beta cells could be tested in human patients.

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‘The first would be to encapsulate the cells in something like a gel — with pores small enough to prevent immune cells from getting in but large enough to allow insulin to get out,’ he said.

‘Another idea would be to use gene-editing tools to alter the genes of beta cells in ways that would allow them to ‘hide’ from the immune system after implantation.’ (IANS)

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Diabetes Can Contribute to Infertility: Experts

The global health body also estimates that 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries and projects that such deaths will double between 2016 and 2030

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Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

Diabetes, commonly described as a “lifestyle disease”, can contribute to infertility in both women and men, warn health experts.

“Diabetes can cause infertility in both men and women. Both sexes are at equal risk of infertility,” S.K. Wangnoo, endocrinologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, told IANS.

Infertility affects up to 15 per cent of reproductive-aged couples worldwide. According to an estimate by the World Health Organization (WHO), the overall prevalence of primary infertility in India is between 3.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent.

“Diabetes in men damages DNA of the sperm and leads to reduced number of sperms and reduced motility of sperms which leads to infertility. Although having diabetes does not necessarily make men infertile, it could make them less fertile,” added Roopak Wadhwa, Consultant at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.

On the other hand, diabetes in women is associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and other autoimmune diseases that can lead to infertility.

“Diabetes causes a lack of glucose control in the body which, in turn, can make the implantation of the fertile egg in the uterus difficult. Therefore, the chances of miscarriage in diabetic women increase between 30-60 per cent,” Wadhwa explained.

Another WHO report had stated that India had 69.2 million people living with diabetes in 2015.

Diabetes
Representational image. Pixabay

By 2030, nearly 98 million people in India may have Type-2 diabetes, according to a study published in the Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology journal last year.

While diabetic patients can always try parenthood, the risk of passing on the sugar disease to the child is approximately 50 per cent high, Wangnoo stated.

“It can also cause intra-uterine growth retardation (IUGR) and congenital anomalies. IUGR is a condition where an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb,” Wadhwa added.

Furthermore, he noted that diabetic mothers are at high risk of premature deliveries, abortions and perinatal (during birth) complications.

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High diabetes can be risky for both mother and child. The experts suggest that maintaining a good lifestyle, an ideal body weight, keeping sugars within target range, avoiding smoking and alcohol and excessive work related stress are some of the preventive measures.

Besides infertility, diabetes can also raise the risk of cardiovascular and lung disease, arthritis, osteoporosis. An estimated 3.4 million deaths are caused due to high blood sugar, according to the WHO.

The global health body also estimates that 80 per cent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle-income countries and projects that such deaths will double between 2016 and 2030. (IANS)