Stem cells are a breakthrough in the medical field where they have shown some promising
results, even in the most challenging cases like Parkinson’s. So far, they have
shown good progress in various nervous, cardiovascular and orthopedic diseases.
1. Treatment of diabetes-- For years, diabetes has been a slow killer to
many Americans. From the young to the old, many have fallen prey to this disease.
Scientists have tried to find a permanent cure to this disease.
- Type I diabetes- also known as juvenile-onset diabetes is observed
mainly in children and young adults. This is also a form of auto immune disease
in which the body’s immune system attacks its own cells as they appear as foreign
bodies. This destroys islets of pancreas which is the site of production of insulin.
Once the insulin production ceases, the glucose is unable to enter the cell and
continues to circulate in the blood putting the body in a hyperglycemic state.
- Type II diabetes- This occurs in later stage of life and mostly
affects those who are above 40 years, overweight or have a sedentary life. In most
cases, it is hereditary and affects those who have a family history of diabetes.
In this case, glucose cells develop a resistance to insulin, though the insulin
production in normal. This leads to build up of glucose in the blood.
So far, there is no cure for this disease, though it can be controlled by administering
insulin several times a day. This is continued for life and requires frequent monitoring
and life long follow up, so as to keep the glucose level in check. If not controlled,
it can lead to heart diseases, retinopathy (a complication that can cause blindness)
and organ failures.
Stem cell cultivation
To develop a therapy for diabetes, stem cells should be able to multiply in culture
and self-renew. But researchers are still debating on whether there should produce
only beta cells (the islets cells that produce insulin) or other types of pancreatic
islet cells which play a key role in manufacturing insulin.
Developed Stem Cells
The latest study has proved that producing only beta cells does produce responsive
changes in glucose, but the response is unable to adjust to the level of glucose
present in the blood. Under normal circumstance, the response of the insulin to
an abnormally high level of glucose is in two phases, first by quickly releasing
high concentration of insulin and then by releasing decreased concentration of insulin,
slowly. But the isolated beta cells and islet clusters either release insulin or
do not release them at all.