A new study has suggested that men with type 1 diabetes may now be able to grow their own insulin-producing cells from their testicular tissue.
The study at the Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is a proof of principle that human spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) extracted from testicular tissue can morph into insulin-secreting beta islet cells normally found in the pancreas.
The researchers said that they managed to it without using any extra genes generally employed in most labs to turn adult stem cells into a tissue of choice.
"No stem cells, adult or embryonic, have been induced to secrete enough insulin yet to cure diabetes in humans, but we know SSCs have the potential to do what we want them to do, and we know how to improve their yield," said G. Ian Gallicano, study's lead investigator.
Gallicano said his strategy could provide a unique solution to treatment of individuals with type 1 diabetes.
The research team took one gram of tissue from human testes and produced about one million stem cells in the laboratory. These cells showed many of the biological markers that characterize normal beta islet cells.
These cells were then transplanted into the back of immune deficient diabetic mice, and were able to decrease glucose levels in the mice for about a week - demonstrating the cells were producing enough insulin to reduce hyperglycemia.
The findings were presented at the American Society of Cell Biology 50th annual meeting in Philadelphia.