Stem Cell Treatment for Diabetes – Is This Really Working?

Stem Cell Treatment for Diabetes

Few medical breakthroughs have become as controversial as those involving the use of stem cells. There are numerous reasons why this is, but as a whole, society is still divided as to whether or not the use of these cells is ethical or appropriate. Pushing that debate aside, it’s important to understand that stem cell treatment for diabetes has been heavily researched, and recent findings indicate that this controversial method may actually provide a cure for type one diabetes sometime in the future. The process by which these cells may reverse the condition is complicated, but it’s giving new hope to many people, particularly parents struggling with managing type 1 diabetes in children.

Ultimately, underlying causes are what make stem cells potentially useful for type 1 diabetes treatment. Unlike the adult onset form of the condition (type 2), it’s an actual biological malfunction that occurs when type 1 diabetes is present. In most cases, the body actually attacks its own insulin producing cells, and over time, there aren’t enough left to produce the insulin that the body needs. Since stem cells can turn into various types of cells, when they are introduced into the body, they can create new beta cells to produce insulin. This purported stem cell treatment for diabetes essentially provides a seed from which new insulin producing cells can be made, leading to better blood glucose control.

There is good reason to assume that if perfected using stem cell treatment for diabetes can be hugely successful. Although human trials are still on the horizon, early studies in rodents show that the theory holds a lot of water. However, another less well known and admittedly morbid fact about the use of similar technology has to do with a procedure that has been performed less than 1,000 times. Beta cell transplants, the only known but dangerous and complicated cure for type 1 diabetes, use a similar theory in terms of success. In this procedure, the beta cells of the newly dead are transplanted into a type 1 diabetes sufferer to restore the insulin producing cells of a diabetic person. Using stem cell treatment for diabetes follows the same methodology, although introduces stem cells that will turn into insulin producing cells over time, rather than transplanting them from the recently deceased.

This potential method however is not technically considered for type 2 diabetes treatment. This secondary and far more common disease is not characterized by insulin producing cell destruction, rather an inability of the body to use the insulin that it’s producing. Therefore, stem cells are not necessarily appropriate for type 2 diabetes treatment, because they serve as cell replacement, which is not needed in type two sufferers. Stem cell treatment for diabetes is limited for use in persons with type 1, in most cases. Clearly, this is because type 2 diabetes causes are very different from the still unknown causes of the much less common form of the condition. However, the treatment might be useful in persons with type 2 in that the stem cells could reduce or eliminate their need to use insulin regularly.

Currently, a diagnosis of diabetes inevitably means that a lifetime of insulin injections and regular home monitoring are imminent. The problem is that although these methods can help make the condition much more manageable, they do not offer a cure for the condition. People with a diagnosis of diabetes for the adult onset or secondary form of the condition have many choices for preventing the disease and making it easier to manage, including diet and lifestyle changes. However, people with type 1 do not have as many options and are very limited in terms of treatment. This is another reason why considering stem cell treatment for diabetes is so worthwhile.

Although considered highly controversial, there are a lot of reasons why many people support the use of stem cells in the treatment of diabetes. Early studies are very promising, and although there is still a lot of concern surrounding the use of stem cell treatment for diabetes, there are a lot of benefits to consider as well. People can live longer, healthier lives if they are able to replace their insulin producing cells, and therefore be able to depend on chemical medicines less. And, when natural diabetes treatment methods like diet and exercise fail to produce desired successes, the use of stem cells can help to fill the voids. It’s a very exciting time for researchers who are banking on a natural diabetes treatment that relies on the miracle of science to perfect. In time, it’s possible that curing diabetes will be something that is done every day.