Stem cells cure hope for diabetes

Posted: February 8, 2015 at 10:49 pm

Research scientists (from left) Dr Jim Faed, Vicky Nelson and Dr Paul Turner talk about the possibilities of finding a cure for type 1 diabetes, during the Lion's Lark in the Park at the Dunedin Botanic Garden yesterday. Photo by Gregor Richardson.

Cell biologist, haematologist and project leader Dr Jim Faed, of the University of Otago, made the promise during the Lion's Lark in the Park event at Dunedin's Botanic Garden yesterday, which aimed to help raise some of the $2.46 million needed to run the trials.

Dr Faed said their research involved trials using stem cells taken from the bone marrow of people with type 1 diabetes, and using them to stimulate insulin production.

The cells appeared to be able to ''turn off'' the auto immune response that causes type 1 diabetes, he said.

''We see this as the low hanging fruit of research into a cure for type 1 diabetes because it has already been done once before.''

Trials had already been carried out on mice and humans. It just needed fine tuning, he said.

Much of the funds raised would go towards the Spinal Cord Society which will develop its stem cell production facilities in Dunedin, so that patients' own cells can be grown and tested in clinical trials.

''It's the only method that's attacking the cause of diabetes. Most of the other treatments are basically designed to manufacture insulin artificially.

''What we are looking for is a cure, not just support of people with the disease.

''This will be a sustained cure that doesn't require top ups.''

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Stem cells cure hope for diabetes

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