London: In a new study, scientists have revealed that they are a step closer to curing diabetes after discovering how a potent two-pronged attack on diabetes can wipe it out.
Researchers of the study found that a powerful “combination therapy” can tackle the condition, even at a late stage.
Around 370,000 Britons have Type 1 diabetes, which develops when immune cells in the body attack and destroy beta cells in the pancreas leaving it unable to produce insulin, the hormone which controls blood sugar levels.
The researchers in California found they can reverse the process by quickly shutting down this “autoimmune” attack on beta cells before feeding the pancreas growth factor molecules.
However, tests have been carried out only on mice.
“The findings hint that people with late-stage diabetes could potentially be cured with a mix of two techniques that spur re-growth of pancreatic cells while stopping autoimmunity,” the Daily Express quoted the researchers as saying.
Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age but usually appears before the patient is 40, especially in childhood.
It is important that laboratory-based research like this is conducted, and that it is followed up, but the many years and many obstacles which lie between this point and any possible use in people mean that we should not get too excited at this stage
The study by a team at the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope in Duarte, California showed the combination treatment lets new beta cells fully regenerate and produce insulin without a risk of being depleted by the immune system.
The researchers said that more studies are needed to see if the technique can work on humans.
“This paper provides insight into techniques which may be used in combination to regenerate and protect insulin producing beta cells,” Matthew Hobbs, head of research for Diabetes UK, said.
“However, it is extremely important to realise that these two techniques have so far only been tested in mice, either individually or in combination.
“It is important that laboratory-based research like this is conducted, and that it is followed up, but the many years and many obstacles which lie between this point and any possible use in people mean that we should not get too excited at this stage. Certainly, it is far too early to hail this as a cure for Type 1 diabetes,” he added.
The study has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.