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Health Beat: Stem cells for diabetes

Date (2015-07-22)

SAN DIEGO - Dr. Jeremy Pettus, health associate professor at the University of California, cialis San Diego, has checked his blood sugar every day, several times a day, for the past 20 years.

"I figured out the other day, I think I've checked my blood sugar somewhere in-between 40-50,000 times in my life," Pettus said. Pettus has Type 1 diabetes. His pancreas doesn't make insulin, so he has to inject his own.

Pettus has Type 1 diabetes. His pancreas doesn't make insulin, so he has to inject his own.

"It's tough, you know. It's not an easy disease," he explained.

But Pettus isn't just a patient with the disease; he's also a doctor who wants to cure it.

"It would be absolutely life-changing," Pettus said. Pettus and Dr. Robert Henry, an endocrinologist at the University of California, San Diego, are conducting the first study in humans to see if embryonic stem cells can help patients with Type 1 diabetes make insulin.

"I think this is the most exciting thing that’s happened," Henry said.

The stem cells are grown in the lab and programmed to develop into islet cells — the special cells in the pancreas that normally produce insulin. Then, they are placed in a special capsule to prevent immune rejection.

"Then that's placed underneath the skin in patients with Type 1 diabetes," Henry explained.

In animal studies, the stem cells secreted insulin and regulated blood sugar levels. Researchers are hoping for the same in humans. They are studying 40 patients in a phase-one safety trial. If it works, it could change millions of lives, including Pettus'.

"It would be the greatest thing ever," Pettus said.

Type 1 diabetes typically affects children and young adults, but older adults can also be diagnosed with the disease.

Source : wfmz

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