In what could prove to be a major breakthrough in treating diabetes, a group of researchers at the National Institutes of Health have managed to treat Type I diabetes in mice by converting stem cells obtained from uterine into insulin producing cells.
The uterine lining in women is one of the richest sources of stem cells in the body with the cells repairing the damaged tissue after every menstrual cycle. However as with other stem cells, these cells can be used to form other kinds of cells.
The researchers extracted the stem cells from the uterine lining and converted them into insulin producing Islet cells that were then inserted into the membrane surrounding the kidneys of diabetic mice.
Lead researcher Dr Louis DePaolo said that those mice that received the converted Islet cells were more active and alert compared to those without the treatment. "You are talking about at least 20- or 30-fold less secretion of insulin by these cells than cells that you are actually taking from the pancreas; not ones that have actually been converted to pancreatic cells", he said.