Type 1 diabetes is one of the most complicated diseases to treat and cure. Doctors have to treat patients’ inability to produce insulin by their own pancreas. Many cures have been tried, including doctors introducing cells into the body to help produce insulin, but the immune system destroys the alien cells, making it impossible for the cells to work within the body. Now, a patent has been approved in the US, which may turn out to be the functional cure that Type 1 diabetes needs. In this method, cells which deliver insulin to the body have been merged with advanced technology, which lets them hide from the destructive immune system for many years. There are other cures which are also proving to be quite effective. Read on to find out more:
Melligen cells – the functional cure for Type 1 diabetes
Scientists at UTS, Sydney have been successful in genetically engineering ‘Melligen’ cells which can effectively release insulin in the patient’s body and regulate blood sugar levels in the same manner that the naturally produced beta cells are supposed to. These Melligen cells are able to store, produce and release insulin as needed by the body for keeping blood sugar levels at normal levels.
In collaboration with a biotechnology company called PharmaCyte Biotech, scientists at UTS have developed a unique product called the ‘Cell-in-a-Box’, which encapsulates the Melligen cells and hides them from the body’s immune system. The combination has been patented. This new technology will help diabetics in a very significant manner by helping them in getting rid of the need to inject themselves with insulin every day. It also protects them from the conditions which accompany diabetes such as kidney failure, blindness and cardiovascular problems.
How Melligen works
The coating that Melligen is encapsulated in, allows it to hide in the pancreas, without the fear of being attacked by the immune system. The special box is composed of a cellulose structure which lets the molecules move easily in or out making it possible for Melligen cells to release insulin when the blood sugar levels are down.
The box can stay within the body for a minimum of two years at least, without causing any damage to the nearby tissues, which makes it a viable long-term treatment for Type 1 diabetics.
The Viacyte cure
Diabetes of the Type 1 variety is a disease which affects millions of people worldwide. Their bodies cannot produce insulin or produces very little insulin, and they have to inject themselves with supplemental insulin to help their body in processing sugar. Viacyte, a company which specialises in regenerative medicine are working on stem cells which can release insulin automatically in the body when required.
This treatment could especially be beneficial for Type 1 diabetics who fall under the high risk category. Stem cells had been used earlier without success, but now, ViaCyte has developed a technique in which the stem cells can mature in the patients’ bodies via an implant called the PEC-Direct.
Clinical trials have been conducted to test whether stem cells could grow fully into islet cells – the cells which produce insulin in the body. But it was found that the quantity of cells which grew within the implants were not enough to treat the disease. Now, Viacyte has collaborated with JDRF, an organization which funds research on Type 1 diabetes, and PEC-Direct has been implanted in two patients as part of a trial.
According to Viacyte, PEC-Direct is not a permanent or full cure, as it cannot treat and address the specific reasons of the disease. Patients using PEC-Direct implant would have to consume immunosuppressive drugs in order to protect the newly grown cells from the immune system.
But still, the treatment is a step forward towards a complete cure, though the company is calling it a ‘functional cure’ for now.
These two implants may well be the cure for Type 1 diabetes that has eluded scientists till now. Further research would help to perfect the flaws in both the implants, leading to the ideal solution/ treatment to cure the disease which millions all over the world suffer from. As of now, the new developments are a landmark in the progress of diabetes care and cure, providing hope to diabetes sufferers.