24 Aug Regenerative Medicine and Diabetes: Current and Future Relationship
Diabetes is a group of metabolic diseases –also known as diabetes mellitus – where the affected individual’s body does not produce or does not appropriately respond to the hormone insulin. This lack of or inability to respond to insulin results in the individual suffering from high blood sugar.
There are two types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in juveniles, giving it the name juvenile-diabetes. In someone who is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – or insulin-dependent diabetes – their immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in their pancreas that make the insulin.
Type 2 diabetes, which is most often diagnosed in adolescence is also known as non-insulin dependent or adult onset diabetes. In individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, either their cells have become resistant to the action of insulin or they have a deficiency of insulin being produced.
Diabetes also poses a risk for future complications such as heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, nerve damage in the limbs, blindness, and kidney failure, among others.
Diabetes is a chronic condition which currently affects around 29 million people in the United States and killing around 70,000 each year. Current treatments for diabetes include insulin therapy, monitoring blood glucose levels, and diabetes medication – amongst other home remedies such as healthier eating and exercising regularly.
How does regenerative medicine play a role in diabetes?
Currently, there are several regenerative medicine therapies that treat foot ulcers and other chronic wounds that are commonly experienced amongst diabetics – both of which are serious comorbidities.
In addition to the relationship between regenerative medicine and diabetes that has already been established through the therapy for wounds, there are companies continuing to work on upcoming advancements in this relationship. There are several regenerative medicine technologies that have the main goal of re-establishing insulin production and mediating the immune system’s attack on the beta cells which produce insulin in a diabetic individual.
Researchers are looking deeper into gene therapy which would mean by mediating the immune system’s attack on the beta cells they could actually stop the autoimmune response from destroying the cells. However, researchers say this will not be enough on its own to cure type 1 diabetes – other treatment will need to be done in combination with this.
Another possible option for the future of the relationship between regenerative medicine and diabetes is the combination of gene therapy and stem cell therapy – this could be the possible combination for treatment for type 1 diabetes. Regenerative medicine could be used to restore normal function to the damaged or diseased tissue or organs.
Hopefully, in the future, the stem cells could be used to produce viable beta cells through gene therapy. While regenerative medicine does not currently have all the answers, scientists and researchers continue to work to improve it and uncover new treatments using stem cells. The current relationship between regenerative medicine and diabetes appears to only continue to become stronger and more beneficial for patients suffering from diabetes.