News / Health

    Reproductive Cells May Some Day Treat Women with Diabetes

    Diabetes sufferer Lee Ann Thill, 34, draws insulin for her insulin pump at her home in Magnolia, New Jersey, June 11, 2007 (file photo)
    Diabetes sufferer Lee Ann Thill, 34, draws insulin for her insulin pump at her home in Magnolia, New Jersey, June 11, 2007 (file photo)
    Jessica Berman

    Women who have Type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the body does not produce the hormone insulin, might someday be successfully treated with a transplant of insulin-producing cells grown from cells in their uterus.

    Researchers at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, took the stem cells from the human endometrium, or lining of the uterus, and converted them into insulin-producing islet or beta cells.  Stem cells are master cells that, given the right nutrients and growth factors, can be coaxed to grow into any type of cell in the body.  Normally, endometrial stem cells generate the lining inside the womb that is shed each month during menstruation.

    After converting the endometrial cells into islet cells, scientists injected them into the membrane surrounding the kidneys of diabetic mice whose pancreases produced no insulin, a hormone used by mammals to convert glucose from food into energy.   

    Louis DePaolo is head of the Reproductive Sciences Branch at the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which funded the research.  DePaolo says the animals that received the islet cell transplant were more alert and healthier-looking than the untreated mice, which developed cataracts and dull fur.  

    But DePaolo says the transplant did not cure the treated mice of their diabetes.  They still suffered from high blood sugar, an indication that not enough insulin was being produced to control the disease.

    "You are talking about at least 20- or 30-fold less secretion of insulin by these cells than cells that you are actually taking from the pancreas; not ones that have actually been converted to pancreatic cells," DePaolo noted.

    For that reason, DePaolo says it's likely to be many years before stem therapy is used to treat diabetes in humans.  For one thing, he says scientists need to figure out how to get the newly-created beta cells to produce more insulin.

    The findings in the latest study would be of most benefit to individuals suffering from Type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, causing abnormally high or low levels of sugar in the blood.  The treatment would be less helpful for the more common Type 2 diabetes, in which the pancreas produces insulin, but the body has difficulty using it.

    The mice in the Yale experiments were bred to lack an immune system so they did not reject the transplanted human beta cells.  DePaolo says in humans, diabetic women whose bodies do not produce insulin could potentially have beta cells tailor-made from their own endometrial stem cells.

    "So that [way] you wouldn't have the immune response," DePaolo noted.  "And that's one of the highlights of this study, is that the cells that are obtained are readily available from the uterus from women who undergo hysterectomy, for one reason or another they can obtain these stem cells."

    Using the same laboratory techniques, Yale researchers also converted endometrial stem cells into healthy brain cells that, theoretically, could be used to replace the cells that go awry in Parkinson's disease.  The procedure has not been tested yet in animals.

    The study on converting endometrial cells into insulin-producing islet cells is published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora