Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Cells Can Be Changed To Cure Diabetes?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 - Stem Cell Guru

As I try to keep my eyes on cell therapy news, this caught my eye- a scientist at Harvard, Dr. Doug Melton, has found a way to change the function of cells by injecting the cells with new genes.

Inspired by his son and daughter, who have Type I Diabetes, Dr. Melton has discovered how to induce pancreas cells to produce insulin in mice. This is good news for patients with severe Type 2 diabetes whose disease is characterized by a lack of insulin production.

Melton said he aims to refine the technique, show that it can be done safely, and begin human clinical trials within two to five years in diabetes patients.

"We were able to flip the cell from one state into another, what one of the younger students in my lab calls an extreme makeover,'' Melton said yesterday in a conference call with reporters.

Hopefully, Dr. Melton's 'extreme makeover' won't be canceled like the television show.

Unfortunately, this discovery may not help Type 1 Diabetics, at least not yet. Melton thinks the same autoimmune process that causes Type I Diabetes would cause the new cells to be attacked as well.

Another possible drawback to Dr. Melton's discovery is that he used a virus to reprogram the cells. Injecting patients with viruses is against FDA regulations.

This discovery is very noteworthy. And it may have other applications besides Diabetes-

"The message for those of us working in other organs … is it opens up the possibility of directly forming those different cells, in our case, heart muscle cells,” said Dr. Kenneth Chien, a colleague of Melton’s and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

If that is the case, VesCell adult stem cell therapy for heart disease may have some new competition in the future. However, if it can help people have a better quality of life, I am all for it.



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