Diabetes Type 1
Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas, such that the pancreatic beta cells that exist there are no longer able make enough of the hormone insulin to properly control the amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood. In type 1 diabetes, the amount of sugar is too high, which can cause permanent, long-term damage and death. The cause of type 1 diabetes is a mystery, but it is considered to be an autoimmune disease, where beta cells are the target of the immune system’s attack. The vast majority of people with type 1 diabetes manage the disease by testing their blood sugar and injecting themselves with insulin multiple times daily.
Currently there are no Health Canada or FDA approved stem cell treatments available for diabetes. However, because the disease is due to the loss of a single cell type – the beta cell – it is a perfect candidate for a regenerative stem cell therapy. Many recent advances in Canada and elsewhere have led to early stage clinical trials, suggesting that a stem cell-based therapy may soon be available for diabetes patients.