Diabetes is one of the major health concerns in the United States today. According to the CDC, in 2014 roughly 9.3% of the American population (29.1 million people) suffer from diabetes, but only 20 million people were actually diagnosed.
That means that nearly 30% of the people suffering from diabetes have no idea that they have it! Curing diabetes has been a high priority for decades, with millions of dollars invested into research every year. According to a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, the precursor may have just been discovered.
Stem Cells = Improved Glucose Metabolism
A trial conducted at the University of British Columbia found that a combination of human stem cell transplants and antidiabetic drugs improved glucose metabolism and body weight in mice with type 2 diabetes(1).
“The mice were given transplants of encapsulated pancreatic progenitor cells developed from human embyonic stem cells, which eventually developed to be insulin-secreting beta cells. These cells improved insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism…”
Antidiabetic Drugs = Weight Loss
And that’s not all! Once the mice showed signs of processing glucose and detecting insulin more efficiently, they were given antidiabetic drugs. After taking the drugs, the mice showed significant glucose metabolism improvements and even lost a lot of the weight.
Not only were they better able to handle glucose more efficiently, but their glucose metabolism returned to normal. They became as “tolerant” to glucose as the normal mice used in the control group. They experienced none of the blood sugar spikes common among diabetics, even after eating a meal that was fairly high in sugar. The treatment essentially returned them to the condition they were in before becoming obese.
To top it off, the mice actually lost weight thanks to the transplant. They returned to their normal weight, the same weight as the mice that had been fed a low-fat diet!
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Stem Cells + Antidiabetic Drugs = Cure?
So what does all of this mean? Essentially, the combination of stem cell transplantation and antidiabetic drugs could very well help to cure Type 2 Diabetes!
The fact that the treatment helped to control blood sugar spikes is one of the most important discoveries from the study. It is believed that the blood sugar spikes are what cause the most damage to the human body, increasing the risk of kidney failure, heart attacks, and blindness caused by diabetes. By enabling the mice’s bodies to process sugar more efficiently and reducing the spikes, they reduce the risk of serious health problems caused by diabetes.
Of course, A LOT of research remains to be done, but this opens the door for some pretty interesting possibilities in the future. The day when diabetes could be cured by transplanting stem cells into the human body may not be quite as far off as you’d expect.
“Success in these clinical trials could pave the way for testing in patients with type 2 diabetes,” said senior study author Timothy Kieffer of the University of British Columbia collaborated with BetaLogics.
“Our hope is that a stem cell-based approach to insulin replacement will ultimately improve glucose control in patients with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, resulting in healthier, longer lives.”(2)
-  http://www.cell.com/stem-cell-reports/abstract/S2213-6711(15)00067-3
-  http://www.hngn.com/articles/79270/20150323/type-2-diabetes-could-potentially-be-reversed-through-new-stem-cell-transplantation-method.htm