Stem cell therapy and diabetes

To date, nearly 3.7 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK [1]

In the UK, 4.6 million individuals live with the effects of diabetes [1]

90% of people with diabetes are diagnosed with type 2 [1]

In the UK, 12.3 million people are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes [1]

1 in 4 people with diabetes in the UK do not know they have the condition [1]

Treatment of diabetes and its complications costs the NHS nearly £10 billion per year [2]

More than
12M
people in the UK
at risk of type 2 diabetes

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is the long-term health condition that occurs when the ability of the body to produce or respond to the hormone insulin is impaired, resulting in excessive amounts of glucose (sugar) in the body, as the body cannot use it correctly. Patients can either be diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

In type 1 diabetes patients, the immune system destroys the insulin-producing beta cells (b-cells). This is a chronic and less common variation of the condition that causes the pancreas to produce little to no insulin.

The more prevalent type 2 diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance and a subsequent gradual decrease in b-cell function, to the point where the cells can no longer generate enough extra insulin to overcome insulin resistance. This causes glucose to stay in the bloodstream and is often associated with obesity.

Stem cell therapy research

The excellent news is that scientists are actively exploring cell replacement therapy as a prospective approach for treating type 1 diabetes, and studies has already shown that human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC)[3] and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in teeth are capable of differentiating into cells that secrete insulin.[4]

In reality, the most ideal source for MSC’s is regarded dental pulp stem cells. They are non-controversial, readily available, and the donor has no discomfort in collecting them. Furthermore, if a secure and cost-effective means were established to replenish b-cells, this therapy approach could be helpful to the larger type 2 diabetes population.

References

1. https://www.diabetes.org.uk/

2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england

3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30071348

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433043/

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