Scientists at the University of Alberta have just cured diabetes in mice, opening the floodgates for research on adapting this cure to humans.
The potential cure is a historic moment in preventing the growing prevalence of diabetes in our society, a disease that, according to the WHO, affects 422 million people around the world.
The process involved an application of stem cells that reverse engineered the insulin islets of blood cells, curing the mice of the disease.
“We’ve been taking blood samples from diabetes patients, rolling those blood cells in time so they can change, and then we’re moving them forward in time so we can turn them into the cells we want,” Explain The pioneer of the procedure, Dr. James Shapiro, at CTV, who developed the famous “Edmonton Protocol,” another treatment for diabetes, in the 1990s.
The Edmonton Protocol involved the use of islet cells for organ transplants, but required powerful anti-rejection drugs. The new stem cell process uses the patient’s own cells, so rejection is impossible.
Like any good scientist, Shapiro will not go beyond the phrase “more research is needed,” but he hopes he can get support from governments if he can show that the science is the same in humans.
“There needs to be preliminary data and ideally a handful of patients to show the world that this is possible and that it is safe and effective,” Shapiro said.
Lack of funding has led a group of volunteers to create a “22 by 22” campaign to raise $ 22 million by 2022 in order to help advance the procedure so that it is available to humans as soon as possible.
Canada is no stranger to advances in diabetes treatments: Sir Frederick Banting came up with the idea for insulin 100 years ago, and 2022 marked the 100th anniversary of its groundbreaking first use.
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