Potentially, this could be a safe treatment for type 1 diabetes in men, and it is also possible that a similar treatment based on egg stem cells could also be offered for women with type 1 diabetes.
These findings were presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of American Society for Cell Biology in Philadelphia by Dr. G Ian Gallicano. Dr. Gallicano is an Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and the Director of the Transgenic Core Facility at Georgetown University Medical Center.
The research found that it was possible to extract human spermatogonial stem cells from testicular tissue and alter them into the insulin releasing cells normally found in the pancreas. Dr. Gallicano says that while, No stem cells, adult or embryonic, have been induced to secrete enough insulin yet to cure diabetes in humans, but we know SSCs have the potential to do what we want them to do, and we know how to improve their yield." The goal would be eventually for men with type 1 diabetes to be able to grow their own insulin producing beta cells.
And what about women you ask? The researchers stress that while the study has started with men, they see no reason why the findings should not also work with the female equivalent, the oocyte cells that become eggs in the ovaries.
One of the reasons the researchers are so excited about this study is because treatment from this research would use the patient’s own cells, which the body would recognize and therefore not reject.
While a cure for diabetes is still a long way off, this study done with mice does show a new direction that research can take, and offers hope for the future of long term health for diabetes patients.
"Functional, insulin-secreting pancreatic endoderm derived from human spermatogonial stem cells."
A. Saraswathula, S. Yamaguchi, A. Zakaria1, Gallicano.
Presented Sunday 12 December 2010 at the American Society for Cell Biology 50th Annual Meeting, Philadelphia.
Abstract ID# 703/B1113