Attention, all type 1 diabetics: Your days of insulin injections may be numbered, thanks to a revolutionary new medicine.
California-based company ViaCyte just developed a stem cell implant called PEC-Direct, and it could be the next miracle cure for diabetes. The implant grows insulin-producing cells from stem cells, which would eventually help manage glucose levels in type 1 diabetes patients. If the implant successfully passes the clinical trials, patients would no longer need to inject themselves with insulin. (And, more good news: researchers are looking into ways to reverse type 1 diabetes.)
“Patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes complications, such as hypoglycemia unawareness, are at constant risk of life-threatening low blood glucose,” clinical trial investigator Jeremy Pettus from University of California, San Diego, said in a press release. “The PEC-Direct islet cell replacement therapy is designed to help patients with the most urgent medical need.”
Placed just below the skin, these implants are no larger than credit cards—but they could have a life-changing impact for diabetics. As the stem cells mature inside the human body, they will become specialized pancreas cells that release insulin automatically when needed.
“There are limited treatment options for patients with high-risk type 1 diabetes to manage life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes,” added ViaCyte president and CEO Paul Laikind. “We believe that the PEC-Direct product candidate has the potential to transform the lives of these patients.”
Clinical trials just began last week. Two patients received injections of PEC-Direct implants and will be monitored for the next several months. If all goes according to plan, the cells will mature in three months and begin releasing insulin as necessary. From then on, scientists hope that diabetic patients will only need to take immunosuppressant drugs in order prevent their bodies from rejecting the new cells.
We’ll be crossing our fingers that the trials prove successful. In the meantime, the leaves of this one fruit can help you manage diabetes at home, too.