Diabetes is a condition whereby the body is unable to regulate its glucose levels and there is a shortage of beta cell mass. Stem cell therapy offers the possibility of replacing these cells. There are two ways in stem cell therapy can be carried out.
People with type 1 diabetes have to take insulin as their beta cells are destroyed. Islets are clusters of cells in the pancreas, which hold beta cells. Islet transplantation involves replacing the patients’ islet cells from donor pancreases. These cells should then produce insulin therefore controlling the diabetes and reducing the amount of insulin that needs to be administered. Another way of treating diabetes through stem cell therapy is through using the patients own stem cells. Bone marrow is collected from the patient and processed to retrieve the stem cells. The stem cells are then implanted into the pancreatic artery under local anaesthetic. The stem cells should then self-generate themselves to produce more beta cells.