Searching for a cure for diabetes


Global back up

Britain's leading diabetes charity, Diabetes

UK, has welcomed the results of a new

stem cell study as a breakthrough that

takes us one step closer to finding a cure

for Type 1 diabetes. A team of scientists

at the New York Stem Cell Foundation

has created insulin-producing cells using

a new process, which could one day

become an important part of a potential

cure. The researchers used skin cells

from a woman with Type 1 diabetes to

make stem cells, which have the potential

to turn into any type of cell in our bodies.

They then showed that they could turn

these stem cell into cells that can produce

insulin (also known as beta-cells). There

are two critical components to a true cure

for Type 1 diabetes. One is to produce

insulin-producing beta cells that can be

given to people with Type 1 diabetes

so that they can start producing insulin.

The other is to control the auto-immune

response that kills insulin producing cells

in people with Type 1. While this research

is in very early stages, it is exciting

because it proves that in principle the first

component of a cure is possible.

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Director of

Research for Diabetes UK, said: "This

research is a real step forward in the search

for a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Replacing

the beta cells that are destroyed in Type

1 diabetes could one day allow people

living with Type 1 diabetes to stop taking

insulin which would transform their lives.

Scientists around the world are searching

for the best ways to produce beta cells

that can be used to treat diabetes. We

don't yet know if this technique will prove

to be the most suitable, but it opens the

door to really exciting possibilities for

the future. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong

condition that people have to manage 365

days a year, so many people dream of the

day a cure is found. Important research

like this is crucial to bringing us one step

further to a cure. We will be watching the

results with interest."

Research in this area is a focus of

UK biomedicine. Diabetes UK currently

supports research into what makes beta

cells grow and thrive, as well as research

into what goes wrong with the immune

system in Type 1 diabetes and how to

reverse it.

Meanwhile further research by

Diabetes UK has shown that more

than 1 in 5 cases of Type 1 diabetes

are diagnosed in people aged over 40,

which is against the normally understood

stereotype. The figures are based on

analysis from the National Diabetes Audit

data and shows that in the year 2011-

2012, 8,952 people were diagnosed with

Type 1 diabetes. This included 2,035

people who were aged over 40 at the time

of their diagnosis, of who more than 500

were aged over 69. Though most cases

are commonly diagnosed between the

ages of 10-14, Type 1 diabetes can occur

at any age. The charity pointed to Home

Secretary Theresa May's Type 1 diagnosis

last year as a high profile example of this.

Artificial pancreas news

In April 2014 it was reported that

British children with Type 1 diabetes

have successfully been entrusted

to use pioneering artificial pancreas

technology all by themselves, at home

overnight, without the supervision of

expert researchers. Meanwhile, Type 1

diabetes charity JDRF revealed people

in the UK living with the condition are

experiencing a 'shockingly high' average

of ten hypos a week - laying bare the

urgent need for the artificial pancreas to

become an accessible reality. The latest

trial, coordinated by the University and

funded by JDRF, has shown for the first

time globally that unsupervised use of the

artificial pancreas overnight can be safe -

while also providing exciting benefits.

Participants, all aged between 12 and

18, saw improved blood glucose control

during the trial, experiencing fewer nighttime hypos.

The figure of ten hypos per

week has emerged through a first ever

real-time information haul of more than

10,000 UK residents with Type 1 diabetes,

released to JDRF from the mySugr app.

It follows the recent revelation that 9% of

all hospital admissions for children and

young people with diabetes are due to


All previous artificial pancreas trials, in

hospitals and in home environments, have

seen researchers strictly monitor patients.

News of the successful unsupervised trial

garnered responses from UK celebrities

who have Type 1 diabetes.

Actor Jeremy Irvine, who is a JDRF

supporter, has lived with Type 1 diabetes

since the age of six. He said: "When the

chance came for me to take part in early

artificial pancreas trials a few years ago,

I jumped at the opportunity. I wanted to

play my own very small part in moving

the artificial pancreas closer to reality. I'm

really excited to hear of this latest progress

- the scientists behind it are my heroes."

Television presenter Dominic

Littlewood gave his reaction to the

statistic showing that UK people with

type 1 diabetes are having 10 hypos a

week. He said: "I have lived with type 1


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