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A new experimental therapy to treat diabetes, which involves transplanting embryonic pig stem cells into the diseased tissue, is currently being researched. Experiments have been done on primates, but the results that have been obtained indicate that in the future the same technique could be applied to human beings. For many years, pig organs have been considered the most best match to be used in human transplants, but strong immune reactions and powerful combinations of anti-rejection drugs have always represented an important obstacle in their clinical use.
A study published in the
A DRUG said to cure diabetes could mean that sufferers will no longer need to take daily insulin injections.
The treatment uses stem cells made from human bone marrow and has been tested on patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes – which affects about 900,000 people in Britain.
Diabetes causes the immune system to attack the pancreas, the organ that makes insulin, which then controls blood-sugar levels.
Sufferers must take insulin injections to stay alive because if blood-sugar levels are allowed to rise too high or get too low, they could fall into a coma and die.
But early trials by American scientists
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Using skin cells from people with type 1 diabetes, researchers were able to produce cells that made insulin in response to changing blood sugar levels, though not as efficiently as normal insulin-producing cells do. (…) “This is a big deal,” said Susan Solomon, CEO of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, which provided some of the funding for the study. “Tackling the basic biology of type 1 diabetes, which is a very complex disease, is a critical step. With these cells, we can see in a dish what’s happening to the immune system, and if
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