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image of mouse next to petri dishes; pancreatic islet cells created to treat type 1 diabetes

Can Pancreatic Islet Cells Treat Type 1 Diabetes?

Japanese scientists from Yokohama City University have successfully created pancreatic islet cells with blood vessels, which could be big news for diabetes management. Clinical trials were performed on mice with type 1 diabetes and greatly improved the survival rate of mice with severe diabetes. Pancreatic islet cell transplantation is not a new diabetes therapy, but the ability of these scientists to create pancreatic islet cells in a controlled environment is certainly groundbreaking.

How do pancreatic islet cells work?

Pancreatic islet cells, or islets of Langerhans, are hormone-producing cells in the pancreas and are important for the metabolism of glucose. When these cells are damaged or fail to work properly, diabetes occurs and prevents the body from processing glucose the way it should. Glucose then builds up in the bloodstream and damages nerve vessels all over the body. Proper blood glucose management is a crucial step in diabetes treatment.

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What does this breakthrough mean for diabetes management?

The significance of this study lies in the smooth blood flow of the transplanted cells. Survival rates of mice who received transplants rose by 90 percent, and almost all of the mice that did not receive transplants died within several days.

Human testing is still far from happening, but the scientists are hopeful that the treatment will one day be used to treat severe cases of type 1 diabetes.