Were you aware that type I diabetes (T1D) is an incurable, insulin-dependent, disease that accounts for roughly 10% of the more than 420 million global cases of diabetes? The majority of cases occur as a result of the automimmune destruction of pancreatic beta cells and if left untreated can result in major organ damage and death. Diagnosed cases continue to increase at an annual growth rate of 3.92% per year and its incidence varies 50–100-fold around the world, with the highest rates in northern Europe and in individuals of European decent. Living with T1D is a constant balancing act requiring full-time attention to avoid acute, life-threatening hypoglycemia or the long-term damage done by hyperglycemia. Blood sugar levels must be monitored either with finger pricks or a continuous glucose monitor. Insulin doses must then be carefully calculated based upon activity and stress levels, food intake, illness and additional factors. These calculations are rarely perfect resulting in a tremendous emotional and mental burden. Transplantation of the pancreas or isolated islets can reverse insulin dependence, but this approach to therapy is limited to a low volume of cases due to the risks of surgery and immunosuppression, limited availability of donor human pancreas, and cost. Preservation and restoration of beta cell function remains the Holy Grail of research into T1D and this paper by Navarro-Tableros et. al highlights the ability of islet-like structures generated from Lonza human liver cells to reverse hyperglycemia in diabetic mice.
Written by Lori
Scientific Support Specialist, Lonza Pharma-Bioscience Solutions at Lonza