by Medindia Content Team on  March 24, 2006 at 4:26 PM Research News
Type 1 diabetes has a cure?
Dr. Emil Unanue, a Washington University immunologist and author of the study said that they have found a cure to Type 1 diabetes in mice. The main aim of the cure is to prevent the immune system before it kills all the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. There is a window of time and the pancreatic cells can be rescued within this time frame and the mice do not suffer from the disease.

The results were published in the journal Science. In this study the researchers say that there is no need for transplantation and the disease can be cured with a simple, short and cheap regimen of drugs. But they found that when adult stem cells from the spleen were added in the pancreas it did not find spleen cells morphing into a new source of new pancreatic cells. Statistics show that about 21 million Americans have diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as many as 3 million of those cases is Type 1 diabetes.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation says that in type 1 diabetes T-cells attack pancreatic cells. These cells produce insulin which is necessary to control blood sugar levels. In 2003, Dr. Denise Faustman, a Harvard University researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital, published her study which said that a combination of two substances a drug and a protein allowed mice to be cured of diabetes.

She also reported the signature of the spleen cells in regenerated pancreatic cell clusters. But Dr. Unanue and two other independent university labs say they can't find the signature of regenerated spleen stem cells. They were unsuccessful in curing the mice.

Hence Dr. Unanue said that controlling the immune system is very essential thereby it is possible for the few remaining pancreatic cells to start producing insulin again. Dr. Faustman regretted her conclusion and accepted that the spleen cells are probably there to provide the protein that helps kill T-cells. Dr. Faustman said that further research has to be done on humans to understand the mechanism of type 1 diabetics and the various methods of treatments.

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