Harvard scientists have developed a treatment that starts with stem cells and could eliminate the need for those who have Type 1 diabetes to inject insulin. The therapy involves a one-time transplant of laboratory-grown pancreatic cells that secrete the hormone insulin—cells that scientists have succeeded in producing in large enough volumes to be able to treat patients. It is the lack of insulin that lies at the root of Type 1 diabetes. The new step-by-step procedure was reported in a a paper published in the journal Cell. The cells worked normally for many months when implanted into mice, and the hope is that the treatment will work for the millions of humans with Type 1 diabetes. Scientists caution that the work is still years from being tested on human patients. The breakthrough is being hailed by some as a medical advance potentially as significant as the advent of antibiotics.
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