Researchers at Monash University’s Institute of Medical Research have used iPS (induced pluripotent stem cells) technology to create Type 1 diabetes cells in a laboratory in Australia.
This [iPS] technology has opened up completely new perspective;” Dr Paul Verma further, said that the research would hopefully lead to the development of more accurate biological models of Type 1 diabetes, new techniques for slowing it down as well as the development of cell replacement therapies and better drugs for patients.
- “The holy grail will be if you can mature these [iPS] cells into functional cells and put them back into a patient,” he said. “This would also help to eliminate the risk of rejection.”
How it works is that adult cells are taken from the patient to create cells that are essentially the same as embryonic cells, in that they have no memory. The researchers would then nurture these cells to grow into so called beta cells – the cells which produce insulin in the body – and finally reintroduce them to the patient’s body where it is hoped they will simply work to top up the body’s insulin levels.
- This sort of cell replacement procedure has already been shown to be effective in animal models.
- This research also has important implications for several other diseases aside from diabetes.