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22

LIVING

for people with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) produced by a

company called Vertex Pharmaceuticals. This is the first

demonstration of a patient with T1D achieving robust

restoration of islet cell function from such a cell therapy.

Shelton received the infusion of stem cells derived

from a human embryo in June last year. The cells are

now producing insulin sufficiently well for his body at

last to more or less control its own insulin and blood

glucose levels as it should do, hugely reducing the risk

of life-threatening hypoglycaemic events. It is the most

successful stem cell transplant so far in a diabetic patient

and Shelton's need for injected insulin has fallen by 90%.

"It's a whole new life, it's like a miracle," he said

in December last year. "I feel like I got released from

handcuffs. I came home that first day, my numbers were

textbook perfect and now everything is completely level.

I'm not sitting here saying where's my orange juice,

where's my pills, where's my shot? I don't need them. My

body now does it for me."

The success has galvanised the worldwide

community of people living with T1D as well as their

doctors. It comes, in part, from the pioneering work

of a neurobiologist called Doug Melton from Harvard

University in Boston, America. Thirty years ago, he

dropped everything to begin researching the condition

after a near-death experience with his baby son Sam, who

developed T1D at six months old. His older child Emma

was later diagnosed with it when she was 14.

"These promising results bring great hope that stem

cell-derived, fully differentiated islet cells could deliver

a life-changing therapy for people who suffer from the

relentless life-long burden of T1D," said Melton who went

on to pioneer Harvard's entire stem cell and regenerative

biology programme.

Vertex has invested hundreds of millions of dollars

in the stem cell project and is now recruiting more

volunteers in the USA and Canada to receive the

experimental treatment. According to the stem cell

industry news website BioInformant, there are at least 16

other companies in the hotly contested race for a viable

treatment to cure T1D - a breakthrough that would yield

billions of dollars to its discoverers and transform lives

(and health systems) worldwide.

Supportive structure

Specialists from Diabetes UK warn this breakthrough is

still some way off. They say the current generation of

replacement beta cells only start to release insulin when

exposed to very high blood glucose levels. It's becoming

clear that the surrounding supportive structure known as

an extracellular matrix, is key to their useful function.

Diabetes UK has invested £280,000 in a project led

by Dr Natasha Hill, a biomolecular scientist at Kingston

University. Her team is using a different type of matrix

taken from a mouse pancreas, to see if this can better

support the stem cells to turn into functioning beta cells.

The cells are then being transplanted back into mice to

see how well they function. First results are due later

this year.

Incidence of T1D, along with other allergies and

so-called autoimmune disease where the body attacks

itself is increasing by about 4% a year for reasons that

are not yet fully understood. There are around 400,000

people with the condition in this country, 29,000 of

them children.

The biggest barrier to widespread use of stem cell

transplants remains the risk of rejection and the need for

continuing anti-rejection drugs.

For the moment stem cell therapies are only being

tested in people with the severest forms of Type 1, who

suffer frequent dangerous hypoglycaemia attacks, or

hypo unawareness, where they experience none of the

physical symptoms of hunger and dizziness, sweating,

fatigue or fast pulse to warn them their condition has

become life-threatening. As research advances, it is

hoped stem cells-turned-beta cells could also be used to

boost beta cell supply in people with T2D and help them

to make enough of their own insulin to perfectly control

blood sugar levels.

Temp fix for T2D

In the meantime, private healthcare companies around

the world are offering the treatment as a temporary fix

for T2D but it is not yet clear how well the cells function

or how long they last. It's available in the UK from places

including the Harley Street Clinic in London which uses

donor stem cells, and BioEden in Nottingham which

uses stem cells from dental pulp. As with most new and

privately offered solutions, it's not for the faint-hearted

when it comes to budget.

This historic, first-in-human

transplant of gene-edited,

stem cell-derived pancreatic

cells for the treatment

of diabetes, designed to

eliminate the need for

immune-suppression

~ James Shapiro

Index

  1. Free online Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes information
  2. Free online Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes information
  3. Free online Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes information
  4. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes news
  5. insulin pump, Dana i system, artificial pancreas, Advanced Therapeutics UK, CamAPS FX, Dexcom G6
  6. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes news
  7. Abbott Freestyle Libre 2, Flash Glucose Monitoring, FSL2
  8. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes news
  9. Glooko diabetes data download software. Stay on track in between visits.
  10. Page 0010
  11. Air Liquide Healthcare UK, Tandem t:slim insulin pump with Control IQ
  12. Desang diabetes magazine article on new NICE guidelines April 2022 spur far wider access to diabetes
  13. Home test HbA1c, A1C Now Self-Check
  14. Desang diabetes magazine article on new NICE guidelines April 2022 spur far wider access to diabetes
  15. Medtrum Touchcare Nano Patch Pump and CGM
  16. Diabetes technology, CGM sensors, FreeStyle Libre, Dexcom One, Glucorx Aidex CGM
  17. Diabetes technology, CGM sensors, FreeStyle Libre, Dexcom One, Glucorx Aidex CGM
  18. New drugs to replace insulin, replacing or preserving beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes.
  19. New drugs to replace insulin, replacing or preserving beta cells in people with type 1 diabetes.
  20. Stem cells and gene editing for a cure to Type 1 diabetes.
  21. Medtronic MiniMed 780G System Automated for an easier way to stabilise glucose levels
  22. Page 0022
  23. Stem cells and gene editing for a cure to Type 1 diabetes.
  24. Desang Diabetes Magazine, free diabetes magazine, living with diabetes
  25. Desang Diabetes Magazine, free diabetes magazine, living with diabetes
  26. JDRF's pathway to choice project for accdss to diabetes technology.
  27. JDRF's pathway to choice project for accdss to diabetes technology.
  28. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes diet
  29. Diabetes technology education from Diabetes Technology Network DTN
  30. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes diet
  31. Insulet Omnipod DASH insulin pump with insulin pods, podders, Omnipod DASH Personal Diabetes Manager
  32. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes diet
  33. Desang diabetes magazine, diabetes diet
  34. Desang Diabetes Magazine, Making Carbs Count, carbohydrate counting for diabetes
  35. Making Carbs Count, Carbohydrate counting for diabetes, Desang diabetes magazine
  36. Making Carbs Count, Carbohydrate counting for diabetes, Desang diabetes magazine
  37. Desang diabetes kitbags, bag for diabetes kit
  38. Desang Diabetes Magazine, free diabetes magazine, living with diabetes

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