Adult stem cells increase insulin production in mice with type 2 diabetes, demonstrating the potential of adult stem cells to address diabetes, say Tulane University gene therapy researchers. The article is published online this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Adult stem cells are grown from donated human bone marrow. They have the potential to be used therapeutically because of their ability to repair many tissues in the body, such as insulin secreting cells in the pancreas.
Tulane researchers Darwin Prockop and colleagues at the Center for Gene Therapy injected human adult stem cells into mice with elevated blood sugar levels. Over time, the blood sugar levels in the mice which received the stem cells decreased. Further tests showed that the stem cells had gone to each mouse's pancreas, repairing damaged insulin-producing tissues. There was some evidence showing that the stem cells were also repairing damaged kidney tissues, says Prockop. The human stem cells were effective in part because the mice were a special strain with a defective immune system, Prockop says, but use of human cells in the experiments provides a direct test for the cells that could be used in patients with diabetes.