Some Insulin-producing Cells Survive in Diabetic Patients, Study Says
A Yale University study has found that it's possible for insulin-producing cells destroyed in type 1 diabetes can actually change and survive, remaining functional. Most diabetics have few or no insulin-producing cells in their pancreas, but researchers have learned that during the "honeymoon period" shortly after early diagnosis, the pancreas can continue producing viable insulin-producing cells.
The study looked to find out how some of those cells survive, despite the onset of diabetes and its attack on functioning insulin-producing cells.
The survivors use a "duck and cover approach," the researchers say.
These cells express molecules that inhibit immune system response and get "stemness," a reversion to an earlier stage of cell development (close to being a full stem cell) that is usually ignored by the immune system. Although the number of cells that have made this change are relatively few in comparison to the total number of insulin-producing cells normally found in a healthy body, the finding is significant.
Researchers believe that having now chronicled how these cells are mutating, new treatment options could be found leading, potentially, to a veritable cure for type 1 diabetes.