Embryonic Stem Cells Are Put In Trail for Curing Diabetes

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Source from Bioscience.com

Lately, the two teams San Diego’s ViaCyte and Boston’s Harvard University successively announced their progress on embryonic stem cells for curing diabetes, which was suggested to be the beginning of the golden age of stem cell therapeutics.

Last week ViaCyte’s announcement of their first FDA-approved embryonic stem (ES) cell clinical trial for diabetes was followed by Harvard University’s new report declaring beta cells made from ES cells “cured” diabetic mice, on which media commented: “if Harvard took it further in the dish, then ViaCyte took it further to the clinic”.

After 15 years of work, systematically testing 150 different combinations of more than 70 compounds involved in pancreas development, the Harvard team finally created mature islet cells– from both human ES cells, and human induced pluripotent stem cells. Although those ES and iPS cells are robust and can make billions of copies of themselves, they need to be placed in a yet-to-be-devised capsule, to protect them from the immune system, and contain them should they go awry.

Harvard’s’ competitor ViaCyte, which is located in the opposite site of the country, noted that they started to treat diabetes with human ES cell-derived islets more than 10 years ago and they published their method for making islet cells nearly eight years ago, and also they worked for many years on designing a device to deliver the cells to the body that would allow them to thrive and not be rejected as foreign cells.

Recently they received FDA approval to implant their cells, in patients, in a teabag-like implantable device. They will transplant the cells at a more immature stage than Harvard’s, as they found they “worked better” if allowed to mature post-transplant, in the bodies of lab animals.

However, Harvard’s team leader Dough Melton refuted that while his cells “cure” mice in days, ViaCyte’s cells “cure” mice in a few months, as they need the host metabolism to finesse differentiation and persuade the cells to respond to glucose.

The competition on stem cell research is quite fierce and there are other teams like BetaLogics, which also published article four weeks ago describing similar pre-clinical success with ES cells for diabetes.

It is really exciting news for diabetic patients and the medical science filed, Just as ES cell expert Jeanne Loring of Scripps Research Institute said: “both teams should be congratulated and this is a notable moment in the history of human stem cell research”. And he hopes that this will be the beginning of the golden age of stem cell therapeutics.

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