Diabetes breakthrough: Insulin-producing cells formed using malaria drugs
Diabetes currently affects 29 million Americans. For decades, researchers have been trying to replace the insulin cells of the pancreas that are destroyed by the disease. Groundbreaking research may have found a way to genetically transform alpha cells into insulin-producing beta cells.
Diabetes ranks as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC report that 29 million Americans currently live with the disease, and another 86 million have prediabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin. More specifically, the body's own immune system stops recognizing the beta cells normally responsible for producing insulin. Instead, it attacks and destroys them.
Without insulin - which normally "tells" the body to start reducing the levels of glucose - the blood sugar cannot enter the cells, where it is normally transformed into energy. As a result, glucose gets stuck in the bloodstream, leading to diabetes.
For decades, scientists have been trying to find a way to replace these beta cells - sometimes referred to as islet cells because they are located in an endocrine area of the pancreas known as the islets of Langerhans.
Researchers have attempted to replace destroyed beta cells with new ones using stem cells and adult cells. Although the results have looked encouraging, they have yet to succeed.
Now, researchers from the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine in Austria seem to have found the missing link, giving hope of a cure for type 1 diabe Continue reading