Stem cells have an innate property that attracts them to inflammation in the body. Studies have shown that stem cells can regenerate damaged or diseased tissues, reduce inflammation and modulate the immune system promoting better health and quality of life.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by a lack of b-cells in the body due to immunosuppression. In the past, the most effective treatment was a b-cell transplant to increase the number of healthy b-cells in a patient. However, this procedure was undesirable for a multitude of reasons. The minimal number of b-cells required for a single transplant required 2-3 healthy donors. Additionally, the regimen of immunosuppressive drugs required to prevent the body from rejecting the donor cells was strenuous for the recipient.
Stem cell therapy for diabetes aims to increase the amount of new b-cells without the negative effects of a transplant. After being introduced into a patient, the stem cells migrate to the damaged tissue, differentiate into new b-cells, and continue to maintain a healthy level of b-cells in the body. Alternatively, stem cells can be lab grown and induced into becoming insulin producing cells. These cells could then directly replenish depleted cells in a patient’s body. With these methods, Type 1 diabetes could be successfully managed without the need for the limited supply of donor cells.