People who suffer from Type 1 diabetes have been waiting for ways of changing their lifestyle of taking insulin injections on a daily basis for years and now, a recent discovery at the University of California has shown that daily insulin injections for type 1 diabetes may no longer be required.
This particular type of diabetes attacks cells which provide insulin to the body, called beta cells, thus requiring a daily dose of insulin to be injected into the blood stream in order to balance out the lack of said hormone. This attack is coordinated by a change in the regulatory immune cells called T-regs, making the immune system attack insulin-producing cells while it protects the body from illnesses and other afflictions.
The study revolved around subjecting 14 patients who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes to an ex vivo (outside the body) process. This therapy consists of taking a portion of the patients blood and infusing it with up to 2.6 billion healthy T-reg cells that are tasked with protecting the beta cells from the attacks of diabetes. The T-regs found in the patients bloodstream are then put into isolation inside a laboratory and multiplied considerably before returning the blood to the donor.
This also helped scientists to better understand if adding this staggering amount of T-regs will cause any side effects in the patients. Fortunately, almost no side effects were present, and up to 25% of the cells infused in the body through the process were still present in the system after a whole year, still protecting the victim cells, making the isolation and expansion ex vivo method extremely efficient when dealing with this type of diabetes.
This T-reg injection process would completely cancel the need of insulin because the beta cells will return to their normal function of producing the hormone, without being in constant threat of an immune attack. Taking into consideration that over 1.5 million people of different ages suffer from this type of diabetes, this news is extremely favorable.
But diabetes is not the only target of interest in this study. By further modifying the T-regs, they could be changed in order to protect other cells as well, in order for them to be applicable to other immune deficiency diseases such as Lupus or cardiovascular diseases. In order for that to even be the case, this clinical trial must be expanded in order to further prove the T-reg infusion efficiency.
The fact that daily insulin injections for type 1 diabetes may no longer be required in the near future, as the T-reg infusion process becomes certifiable and approved by nations around the globe, brings hope to sufferers of this disease worldwide. And the added function that these cells may have in the future makes this study even more important as time goes on.