Diabetes: Using artificial cells to fight ‘diabetes’

Berlin – Researchers want to use reprogrammed cells to combat the insulin deficiency of people with type I diabetes. The first experiments showed good results. These can eventually lead to new gene therapies. Much remains to be researched, but work is progressing. Our good news for World Diabetes Day!

War of the cells

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In short, this means that there is war between cells in the human body. Immune cells attack and destroy beta cells. As a result, they can no longer perform their normal function of producing insulin. As a result, the body can no longer process glucose (grape sugar) – that is why it is called ‘diabetes’. Symptoms may include fatigue, extreme thirst and frequent urination. Thanks to drug therapies and insulin pens, sick people can already prepare for life with the disease and live largely normal lives. But research is not standing still. A gene therapy approach would address the causes of the disease.

Artificial cell associations

Researchers have now succeeded in converting human alpha cells into insulin-producing beta cells. With this “job change”, the reprogrammed cells were now able to produce insulin again. From these modified cells, the researchers built complete artificial cell assemblies modeled on the insulin-producing “Langerhans islets” of the pancreas. Experiments showed that the prepared and reused cells actually started to produce insulin again.

A promising approach to possible new therapies. And good news on World Diabetes Day!

More information about innovations can be found in our “Drug Innovation” service.

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