Could Diabetics Be Free From Insulin Injections? Scientific Breakthrough Uses Patients’ Own Skin Cells

Diabetics could some day be free from daily insulin injections thanks to a scientific breakthrough using the diabetic’s own skin cells. The new diabetes treatment will turn skin cells into healthy pancreatic cells which can be used to replace the cells damaged by type 1 diabetes. The procedure would spell an end to insulin injections as the patient’s body would be able to regulate insulin levels on its own.

The Daily Mail reports that type 1 diabetes patients may soon be able to toss their daily insulin shots thanks to a breakthrough therapy involving their own skin cells. The breakthrough diabetes treatment turns skin cells into healthy pancreatic cells which can be used to replace the pancreatic cells damaged by diabetes. Replacing these cells with healthy cells will allow the body to produce insulin on its own making insulin shots unnecessary. The research is incredibly promising as it has already proven successful in mice.

The researchers working on the project note that with a tiny sliver of skin from the patient, trillions of healthy pancreatic cells could be made. The cells would then be transferred into the patient’s pancreas and take over producing insulin for the diabetic. Though the treatment is aimed specifically at those with type 1 diabetes, the researchers claim that the procedure can also be used to help further treatment options for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. Anna Morris of the charity Diabetes UK says the new research is exciting and will likely pave the way to better treatment options for anyone with diabetes.

“The generation of insulin-producing pancreatic cells in the lab, that could be successfully transplanted into people with diabetes, is a very exciting area of research that could revolutionize the future treatment of the condition.”

It was also noted that patients can expect little issue with negative immune system response to the new pancreatic cells as the cells would be created from the diabetic’s own skin cells. By using the patient’s own cells, the body would more readily accept the cells into the system despite being altered in a lab.

“The results of this particular early-stage laboratory study, which has been carried out in mice, are very promising and we look forward to future investigations testing whether this method could be reproduced in humans, and ultimately developed as a treatment for diabetes.”

For those with type 1 diabetes, daily insulin shots are required for the individual to stay alive. Therefore, a treatment such as the skin cell therapy would be life-changing for daily insulin injectors. The cells would allow the patient’s body to regulate its own insulin levels without the daily injections. Though scientists say the research is promising, they note that the current process will not do away with insulin shots just yet. However, the success of the early stages of the research indicates that insulin shots may one day be obsolete.

The National Health Services News reports that the findings were discovered by scientists at the University of California. The research also found that when the healthy pancreatic cells were placed in the kidneys, they protected mice from diabetes altogether.

What do you think about the new diabetes research? Do you think that insulin shots will become obsolete in the near future?

[Image via AP/ LM Otero]