Scientists at the University of Alberta say they may have discovered a cure for diabetes.
So far, the research team managed to cure diabetes in mice using a new stem cell process and hopes that this process will translate into humans as well.
The project’s lead researcher, Dr. James Shapiro, said that his team managed to work with experts around the world to turn patients’ blood into insulin-producing cells.
“So now we are at a point where we can reliably manufacture insulin-producing cells from the blood of patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes,” he said.
From cell transplantation to more efficient methods
Twenty years ago, the same Dr. Shapiro made medical history with “Edmonton Protocol”, A procedure that provides patients with new insulin-producing cells, thanks to transplants from organ donors.
However, this procedure requires the use of strong anti-rejection drugs that have significant side effects.
Dr. Shapiro says this new stem cell process would eliminate this problem.
“If they are their own cells, patients will not reject them,” he said.
According to Dr. Shapiro, more tests will be needed before his team can move its tests from animals to humans.
“There needs to be preliminary data and, ideally, a handful of patients to show the world that this is possible and that it is safe and effective.”
Lack of funding is also a major impediment. That’s why a small group of volunteers aims to raise $ 22 million by 2022 to fund additional research for the Canadian Diabetes Research Institute Foundation.
Dr. Shapiro hopes the financial aid will allow him to prove that science works.
right World Health Organization, globally there are approximately 422 million people living with diabetes, and 1.6 million deaths are attributed to diabetes each year.