Using stem cell therapy, US researchers have successfully reversed Type 1 diabetes -- a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin -- in a mouse model.
In the study, mice with Type 1 diabetes were infused with pre-treated blood stem cells to produce more of a protein called PD-L1, which has a potent anti-inflammatory effect against Type 1 diabetes.
The treated stem cell could curb the autoimmune reaction of the cells and reverse the abnormally high blood glucose condition in mice.
Almost all the mice were cured of diabetes in the short term, while one third maintained normal blood sugar levels for the duration of their lives, the researchers said.
"There's really a reshaping of the immune system when you inject these cells," said Paolo Fiorina, from the Boston Children's Hospital in the US.
"Blood stem cells have immune-regulatory abilities, but it appears that in mice and humans with diabetes, these abilities are impaired.
"We found that in diabetes, blood stem cells are defective, promoting inflammation and possibly leading to the onset of disease," Fiorina said.
For the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team found that the production of PD-L1 is altered in blood stem cells from diabetic mice and humans. This prevents production of PD-L1, even early in the disease.
When a healthy gene was introduced for PD-L1 into the stem cells, the treated cells reversed diabetes in the mice.
Removing the deficiency of PD-L1, using cell-based therapy -- that is low on adverse effects, because it uses the patients' own cells -- may provide a novel therapeutic tool for the disease, the researchers said.
Stem cell therapy may help reverse diabetes