For the ones who suffer from type 1 diabetes and often inject themselves with insulin as a parcel part of their daily lives, it will sound like great news that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are on the edge of a breakthrough.
As The regular form of treatment hasn’t made much of an advance for nearly a century, A study in Nature Medicine revealed that insulin-producing beta cells driven from human stem cells have shown too much of efficiency in “switching off” diabetes in mice within six months.
In nature, rising blood sugar levels are counteracted with insulin produced by clusters of beta cells within a healthy person’s pancreas.
The ones who suffer from type 1 diabetes are unable to control their blood sugar levels, because their own immune system attacks and kills these insulin-producing cells. Therefore, Type 1 diabetes is considered a type of autoimmune disease, and is currently incurable
In 2014, using human embryonic stem cells, a team led by Harvard University took a leading step in developing a bonafide cure. The team induced those cells to become beta cells in large numbers – up to hundreds of millions at a time, enough to be transplanted into a hyperglycemic mouse and be watched reducing the animal’s blood sugar levels. Unfortunately, the transplanted beta cells were destroyed by the mouse’s faulty immune system very quickly and the technique failed to provide lasting benefits.
Now, a research team at MIT has discovered a method to hide these beta cells from the self-destructive immune system of mice that have type 1 diabetes.
From previous research, various transplanted beta cells can be encased in alginate gel. Which protect the beta cells from the erring immune system within primates, including humans, however; scar tissue began to be formed around the alginate capsules, which means that the immune system has begun to destroy them.
The MIT researchers had in mind that they should modify the chemical structure of the capsules _in as many different ways as possible_ to enhance and build a better, stronger shield for the beta cells.
Professor Arturo Vegas, the lead author of the study, said _and I quote_: “We made all these derivatives of alginate by attaching different small molecules to the [large molecule] chain, and hoped that one of the 800 alginate derivatives would have the ability to prevent recognition by the immune system.”
Luckily, one of them did indeed work effectively, in both mice and nonhuman primates.
It’s known as (TMTD), triazole-thiomorpholine dioxide, this variant could hide from the very strong immune system within a hyperglycemic mice. Immediately after they were transplanted, the beta cells began to produce insulin, and brought down the blood sugar levels to the healthy standards for a significant length of time (174 days).
Of course, after many more nonhuman primate experiments confirm that this technique is working effectively, the next step will be the human trials.
We all hope that it works for human, to prevent the suffering of many people.