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

US Firms Concerned About China's New Cyber Regulations

New rules would require technology companies doing business in financial sector to hand over their source code, adopt Chinese encryption algorithms More

WHO Focus on Ebola Shifts to Ending Outbreak

Focus to be less on building facilities and more on efforts to find infected people, manage their cases, engage with communities and ensure proper burials More

US Scientist Who Conceived of Groundbreaking Laser Technology Dies

Charles Townes, Nobel laureate, laser co-creator paved way for other scientific discoveries: CDs, eye surgery, metal cutters to name a few technologies that rely on lasers More

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.
Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Webi
X
January 29, 2015 9:58 AM
Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video As Ground Shifts, Obama Reviews Middle East Strategy

The death of Saudi Arabia’s king, the collapse of a U.S.-friendly government in Yemen and a problematic relationship with Israel’s leadership are presenting a new set of complications for the Obama administration and its Middle East policy. Not only is the U.S. leader dealing with adversaries in Iran, the Islamic State and al-Qaida, but he is now juggling trouble with traditional allies, as White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid