Stem Cells May Functionally Cure Type 1 Diabetes
Living with type 1 diabetes can be really rough. There’s a lot of injections and that you have to keep up with and even then, heart health, cardiovascular, and brain health can take some big hits. Some choose to use an insulin pump, but even that has its issues. The disorder affects the immune system, causing it to recognize the cells that make insulin and attacks them. One medical device company, Viacyte, is hoping that they’ve got a device that can protect a special crop of stem cells so that they can live inside the body and produce enough insulin to mostly cure the condition.
About the size of a credit-card, the PEC-Direct contain cells that will respond to rises in blood sugar and begin producing their own insulin, just as the body would on its own. The auto-immune issue is still there, but the device can keep the cells alive long enough to be a cure in all but name.
“If it works, we would call it a functional cure,” Viacyte representative, Paul Laikind, told New Scientist. “It’s not truly a cure because we wouldn’t address the autoimmune cause of the disease, but we would be replacing the missing cells.”
PEC-Direct allows blood vessels to grow into the device itself, allowing the body to feed the stem cells. After three months, they will become islet cells — the kind that monitor the body’s blood sugar and produce and release insulin to compensate. A special fabric helps foster that growth, but patients would still need to take steroids or other immunosuppressing drugs to keep their immune systems from wiping out the freshly-hated i Continue reading