Potential “cure” for type 1 diabetes ready for next set of trials
Professor Anderson reported that when implanted in primates, the new device proved to be “biocompatible for six or eight months, without provoking an inflammatory response” or any other side effect.
Professor Anderson added: “We are excited by this new technology and are working hard to advance it to the clinic. These papers represent seven or eight years of work. We started working with Professor Melton a few years ago when he began producing beta cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESC). We are excited by this new technology and are working hard to advance it to the clinic.”
Insulin injections are the main treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, but this does not fully help to regulate the metabolism, or the breaking down of fats into energy, in people with the condition.
When beta cells are functioning normally, they are part of an exquisitely fine-tuned system, providing precisely the amount of insulin the body needs.
The researchers believed that if the device is implanted into the beta cells they could be shielded from immune attack, and would respond to the body’s own signals for insulin, they would be likely to eliminate most, or even all, the complications of type 1 diabetes, and would, in effect, serve as a cure.
In addition, some people with type 2 diabetes who are insulin dependent, may also benefit from the implantation of stem cell-derived beta cells.
The researchers hope they are now close to furthering their tests in phase 1 clinical trials to test the device on humans and test in more detail whether the treatment is safe and whether it works.
DRWF Research Manager, Dr Eleanor Kennedy, said she agreed that this was an important piece of research.
Dr Kennedy said: “It is exciting to see these results. Professor Melton’s group has pioneered the work in this field and this does represent a significant advance.
However, as a note of caution, Dr Kennedy added: “This research has been conducted in primates and the device’s efficacy still needs to be proven in humans. Phase 1 trials will be an interesting next step but, of course, this is just the first step in the pathway to widespread use and robust clinical trials could take several years to complete.”
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