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“Reprogrammed” Cells in Mice Reverse Late-stage Type 1 Diabetes


May 15, 2012

A successful experiment on mice with type 1 diabetes, which involved "reprogramming" their immune systems to stop attacks on pancreatic beta cells, may point the way to an eventual cure for the disease in humans.

The experiment, led by the City of Hope medical research center in Duarte, California, first used antibodies to kill the two kinds of cells that are involved in autoimmune attacks against insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, the cells that defend the body against bacteria, viruses, and outside intruders erroneously attack the beta cells, eventually destroying them and the body's ability to produce insulin.

Once the defender cells were killed, the researchers transplanted bone marrow into the mice to restore the cells. The new immune cells from the marrow no longer carried the factor that made the previous cells attack the pancreas's insulin-making beta cells. In short, the new cells left the mice's pancreases alone.

At the same time, the researchers injected the diabetic mice with pancreas growth factor, which led to the creation of new insulin-producing beta cells. The cessation of autoimmune attacks, combined with a restored ability to produce insulin, led to a virtual cure of the mice's disease.

Two aspects of the study give rise to high hopes for its treatment approach. First, it involved mice that had late-stage type 1 diabetes. Second, it combined cell replacement and pancreatic growth factor, two therapies that are not new but had not been combined before.

As promising as the City of Hope approach is, it will be several years before it can be used experimentally on humans. The next step will be to try the treatment on primates, which are physiologically closer to humans than mice are.  

The study, funded by the Iacocca Family Foundation and private donations, was published in Science Translational Medicine.


Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Diabetes Health, Insulin, Pancreas, Pancreatic Beta Cells, Research, Science Translational Medicine, Type 1, Type 1 Diabetes, Type 1 Issues



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Comments

Posted by shosty on 18 May 2012

It is hard not to be skeptical, because we have read about these approaches before, but since two methods are now being combined, it certainly looks hopeful.

How about if JDRF stops pushing the artificial pancreas and makes a huge effort to get more funding for this new approach to an actual cure?

And how about some of those drug and pump companies whose business benefits from type 1, pitching in too?

And how about if researchers work together for a change?

My daughter was 4 when she got type 1, and we walked and fundraised for what our naive selves hoped was a cure soon. She is now 22 and has many health problems. Time marches on. Maybe she could get a gorilla suit!

Posted by Anonymous on 18 May 2012

Stop reporting nonsense just to add to the donation train. This is getting so irresponsible in posting all of these "breakthrough" headlines that 99% of the time get left behind or turn into nothing............

Posted by Anonymous on 23 May 2012

There is much skepticism and bitterness toward some of this research however, this research can lead to other possible cures. It is one step in the direction of a cure so I can't be upset about it being reported on. I'd rather know what is going on, even if it is only a small glimmer of hope!

Posted by Anonymous on 29 May 2012

It's amazing how all this 'curative' research is all the same; using toxic compounds to repress or eliminate the immune response, except for Dr. Faustman's research as far as I can tell by what she's published. No wonder the JDRF turned a blind eye to her.. They are content playing with their little white mice and increasingly expensive mechanical devices.

Ask yourselves if there are no current 'curative' clinical trials going on; it won't happen for another 20-25 years and that's if they started with a clinical trial today......................................

Posted by Anonymous on 19 June 2012

Having had the Big D for 39 years now, I truly appreciate the skepticism. BUT...
The focus here seems to be going in a different direction than other studies I have read about. Killing off the immune system and transplanting healthy cells is NOT off the table as far as the FDA is concerned from a patient safety approach. It's done daily in the treatment of cancer.......

I speak from experience. After having had diabetes for 22 years, I developed stage IIIA breast cancer and was only given a 40% chance of making it to a 2 year survival point. That was almost 17 years ago now.

I had the chemo to wipe out my immune system with a stem cell rescue. While it was not pleasant, if I thought I only had to do that again in order to get rid of the Big D permanently, I'd be in line tomorrow to sign up. And this study is referring to ANTIBIOTICS, not chemo agents! A big difference there! The cost factor of a one time 'wipeout' and replacement of healthy cells to the immune system is NOTHING compared to the longterm cost of not only treating the Big D, but also treating the complications that occur as a result of this disease.

Skepticism about the time it would take to get a cure "to market" is also misplaced in this instance I think. While it does take a while for mice trials to proceed to human trials, the FDA has a fast-track process for both drugs and devices that is used to get treatments out to the general public in a matter of about 2 years....not 20. This fast track process is used when the drugs or treatments are aimed at diseases with high health impact (cost, physical, curative, etc.) and for high numbers of affected patients.

Sadly, one reason all these "miracle" proposed cures are never heard of again after breaking news is that the cures in the lower species don't always translate into human cures. If it were only that easy.

It is frustrating. But, if we don't hold on to some hope, we have nothing to hold on to. Take the Big D out on a punching bag, but not on your hopes! We all need to hang in there together to make sure no cures slip away. Here's to the death of the Big D!


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