The challenge to effectively and safely restore proper control of blood glucose (sugar) levels (referred to as glycemic control) in people with diabetes is ongoing. The standard treatment for type 1 diabetes remains to be proper monitoring of blood glucose levels with daily insulin injections. However, patient compliance often limits its effectiveness. Pancreas transplantation is associated with limited donor tissue availability and with side effects due to the immune system suppression needed to reduce the risk of tissue rejection.
Scientists find that stem cells may be beneficial in treating diabetic patients with critical limb ischemia and foot ulcers.
Bone marrow stem cells are known for their capacity to self-renew and ability to give rise to different cell types. They can be used for tissue regeneration and treatment against different types of cancer. The extent of their benefits does not stop there. Stem cells also may help heal foot ulcers in diabetic patients.
New research suggests that metformin treatment could effectively eliminate pancreatic cancer stem cells that rely on oxygen-based metabolism for energy production.
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, because of its tendency to cause symptoms only at a late and advanced stage. There were 49,000 new cases of the disease in 2015 in the United States; only 7.2% survive beyond 5 years. In most cases, by the time signs and symptoms appear, complete surgical removal is not possible and the cancer has already spread to other organs. Thus, development of strategies for earlier detection and new treatments are necessary to improve the prognosis of pancreatic cancer patients.
Stem cells bring a new hope for patients suffering from diabetes, but the body's immune system may pose a challenge
It would be ideal to develop a system in which stem cells can be cultured to generate β cells for use in clinical settings. Indeed, technology with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) has shown encouraging results by converting somatic cell types directly into stem cells, as exemplified by differentiation into cardiomyocytes, muscle, and neural cell types. These kinds of promising studies provide a hope for other diseases as well. In one of our previous blogs we have discussed the pros and cons of pluripotent stem cells in diabetes therapy.