Stem cells offer hope for diabetic cure

NEW YORK: Scientists in the US have used stem cells from human bone marrow to successfully treat diabetic mice with high blood sugar and damaged kidneys, a treatment they hope can be adapted for humans as well.

The team from New Orleans’ Tulane University injected a group of mice with stem cells. After three weeks, they were shown to be producing higher levels of mouse insulin than untreated mice and had lower blood sugar levels. The injections also appeared to halt damaging changes taking place in the glomeruli — the bulb-like structures in the kidneys that filter blood, said the study featured in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researcher Darwin Prockop said: “We are not certain whether the kidneys improved because the blood sugar was lower or because the human cells were helping to repair the kidneys. But we suspect the human cells were repairing the kidneys in much the same way they were repairing the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.”

Stem cells are immature cells with capacity to turn into any kind of tissue in the body. Scientists hope it can be adapted to treat diabetes in humans.