Will Diabetes Be Cured in the Future?
The answer to the question “Will diabetes be cured in the future” is a resounding “yes.” Various promising technologies are now available to combat the disease, including gene-edited stem cells, SGLT2 inhibitors, the Encaptra cell device, and stem cell-based beta cell replacement. But which one will be the best for diabetic patients? The following articles will discuss some of the latest breakthroughs in the field.
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Gene-edited stem cell therapy
A new type of diabetes treatment is on the horizon. Columbia scientists have developed a gene-edited stem cell therapy that may eventually lead to cell transplants for people with type 1 diabetes. The therapy also could help those with monogenic diabetes, which accounts for about 1 percent of the total number of cases. This therapy involves replacing defective cells with functional ones, using CRISPR gene-editing technology.
An SGLT2 inhibitor, or selective glucose oxidase-2 inhibitor, is an oral drug that treats type 2 diabetes by causing the body to filter out excess glucose in the urine. Early studies have shown some impressive benefits, including a lower A1C and weight loss. These drugs may even prevent renal failure and heart failure and are opening new avenues for collaboration among endocrinologists. As more research comes out on SGLT2 inhibitors, they may be able to help diabetes cure in the future.
Encaptra cell device
A private company, ViaCyte, is developing a stem cell-derived islet replacement therapy for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. The Encaptra cell device, which is about 1×3 inches in size, protects the cells from immune attack, allowing them to mature into insulin-producing beta cells. The device also allows for easy monitoring and removal in case of an emergency. The device could eventually help cure diabetes.
Stem cell-based beta cell replacement therapy
The use of stem cells for the production of new beta cells in the human body could potentially be a great way to combat diabetes. Current research indicates that stem cell-based therapy can help stabilize glycemic control in selected patients. However, many hurdles remain. One of these is the cost, and stem cell-derived transplant tissue could be a cost-effective alternative to insulin therapy for type 1 diabetes.
While metformin has been a mainstay of the treatment for Type 2 diabetes in adults for over 50 years, studies have not been as successful in children. But a team led by Professor Haqq at the University of Alberta has recently started testing metformin alongside dietary fiber to help curb insulin resistance in children. Thanks to the unique facilities at the Alberta Diabetes Institute, Haqq was able to continue this line of research. The results of this study may help reverse or even prevent diabetes in children.
Mechanistic approaches to the treatment of diabetes and insulin resistance can pinpoint potential sites of intervention and develop therapeutics that target the causes and underlying mechanisms of this disease. The mechanistic engagement has already revolutionized the treatment of other diseases such as oncologic diseases and autoimmune diseases. In recent years, new classes of antidiabetes drugs have been introduced. These new drugs are expected to lower blood glucose levels and reduce the risk of macrovascular complications, which are major causes of death in diabetes.