05 Sep Stem Cell Therapy Treats Diabetes
Diabetes is an increasingly more common condition in the United States. As the obesity epidemic gets worse, so do type 2 diabetes diagnoses. There is no cure for diabetes, only medications and methods of treatment to manage the condition. Stem cell therapy is being considered as a treatment, or even cure, for diabetes patients. Current studies are showing promising results in curing diabetes with transplanted beta cells via stem cell therapy.
What is Stem Cell Therapy?
Stem cells are being used in regenerative medicine because of their unique healing properties. They are the origin for every specialized cell in our body, and any type of cell can be made out of a stem cell if it is programmed that way. Stem cell therapy is becoming increasingly more popular and safe, considered a miracle treatment in modern medicine. There are many different sources to harvest stem cells from, some less controversial than others. The most common sources of stem cells are embryonic cells, adult stem cells like bone marrow cells and fat tissue cells, adult stem cells that have been changed into embryonic cells, and perinatal cells. Generally, harvesting stem cells from a patient’s fat tissue is the easiest method. It is a quick, pain-free procedure where fat tissue is taken from anywhere on the body, and the stem cells in the fat tissue are harvested for therapeutic use. These fat-derived stem cells never decline in abundance as you age, as adult bone marrow stem cells do. Bone marrow stem cells can also be extremely painful to harvest, unlike fat cells that require a relatively non-invasive procedure. Embryonic stem cells have been considered unethical to use, as they take them from unborn, fertilized embryos.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and comes from the food you eat. Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps glucose from food get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. Over time, having too much glucose in your blood can cause health problems. Although diabetes has no cure, you can take steps to manage your diabetes and stay healthy. The most common case of diabetes is type 2 diabetes. This is when the body does not make or use insulin well and is developed over time. Type 1 diabetes patients are born with the disease.
How Can Stem Cells Treat Diabetes?
Stem cells are being used to transplant beta cells in diabetes patients, which are the cells that detect blood sugar levels and produce insulin. Patients with type 1 diabetes would benefit because new beta cells would replace the ones they’d lost to the disease. Type 2 patients could increase their body’s ability to produce insulin, lowering blood sugar levels and alleviating the need for constant injections.