Diabetes is among the top 3 leading causes of death in the world. There are two types of the condition. Type-1 Diabetes is also known as juvenile-onset diabetes simply because the condition has already manifested in the body of the person from the moment they were born.
This type of diabetes is characterized by the killing of our Pancreas’ ability to create insulin-producing beta cells by the person’s own immune response. This process would render the affected person the inability to regulate blood glucose levels through normal means, which is why they would be required to take insulin shots just to keep everything in equilibrium.
A team of researchers at Harvard has come up with a way to create an insulin-producing organ that is completely in vitro. This can purportedly help restore normal blood sugar levels in mice that are affected by type-1 diabetes.
According to Co-Author, Qiao Zhou of Harvard University, he said that he and his team have provided a means to help replenish lost beta cells. He added that in various diseases, we lose a constant supply of beta cells.
Zhou and his team have discovered that the cells that are found in the Pylorus, a region in the body that is located between the small intestine and the stomach, produce at a constant rate the gene expression that is necessary for the production of beta cells.
The researchers then engineered three genes that were found to induce beta cell production in mice and they have discovered that the cells that are found in the Pylorus were differentiated into insulin-producing cells that could help restore the balance in blood sugar levels.
According to Zhou, they’ve looked at the entire physiology of the mice and among the many regions of their bodies, it was found that the pylorus region creates the perfect condition for the creation or conversion of beta cells. In other words, the tissue that is within the said region could initiate the conversion process.
The first thing that the group of researchers did was to remove some Pylorus cells from mice that were affected with Diabetes. Then, they converted those cells into beta cells completely in vitro which resulted in the growth and creation of mini gastric organs- capable of creating some much-needed insulin.
The created organs were then transplanted into 22 mice that were affected by the deadly condition. Among the different mice, only 5 of them were successful and the blood glucose levels in these mice went back to normal. Furthermore, the transplant also made the effect of restoring insulin secretion in their bodies as well.
This is something truly remarkable and could pave the way for the complete treatment of Diabetes 1 sufferers. Zhou and his team have now turned their attention into creating similar organs and growing them by using human tissue.
Hopefully, his team is able to create the organs successfully and have them become successful in human trials in the future.