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New hope for people with diabetes
An international research team recently managed to cure diabetes in mice for the first time. According to the researchers, the underlying treatment can also be carried out in humans. Flexible cells that are implanted in the pancreas play a key role.
An international team consisting of researchers from the University of Bergen, the Université de Genève, the Harvard Medical School, the Universiteit Leiden and the Oregon Stem Cell Center recently achieved a breakthrough in diabetes research. For the first time, a scientific team has been able to cure diabetes - initially only in mice. However, the researchers believe that the therapy can also work in humans. The study results were recently published in the renowned journal "Nature".
Flexible cells from the pancreas
The researchers found that human cells from the pancreas can change their role to combat diabetes. In animal experiments on mice, the scientists implanted previously prepared cells in the pancreas of mice with diabetes. The rodents then recovered from the disease. When the cells were removed, the diabetes returned.
Cells are more flexible than previously thought
Contrary to the prevailing opinion that cells always serve a specific purpose, the team from the Nature study showed that human cells can be converted into other cell types much better than previously thought. The researchers were able to influence the cells in such a way that they changed their original function.
Cell change you
Cells that produce the hormone glucagon in the pancreas play a key role. Usually, the hormone triggers the production of high-energy glucose, which leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. "By influencing the glucagon-producing cells in the pancreas, we made the cells produce insulin instead," Professor Helge Ræder, one of the research directors, summarizes the study results in a press release.
Cells are also more resistant to attacks by the immune system
In addition, the study showed that the changed cells not only produce insulin, but are also more resistant to attacks by the immune system. This is particularly important in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, where insulin-producing cells are attacked by the body's immune system. "This means that we can probably use the patient's own cells without fear that the manipulated cells will ultimately be destroyed by the immune system," explains the professor.
New therapies are also conceivable in other areas
The researchers go one step further with the importance of knowledge. Professor Ræder believes that these mechanisms are not limited to the pancreas. He is convinced that this cell flexibility can be found in many other cell types in the human body and that it can also cure many other diseases. "The ability of cells to change functions can be important for the treatment of other diseases caused by cell death," the scientist concluded. The professor mentions neurological diseases, heart attacks and cancer as examples. (vb)