Worldwide, more than 415 million people are living with diabetes. In 2012, scientists from the University of British Columbia were able to reverse diabetes in mice using stem cell transplants. Since then, stem cell therapy has been aggressively studied for its use in the treatment of and, ultimately, cure for diabetes.
In clinical trials all over the country, scientists, researchers and doctors are studying stem cells’ ability to help with many complications of diabetes. Some of these applications include blood circulation problems, insulin production, vision loss and more.
Dr. Ahvie Herskowitz, founder of San Francisco Stem Cell Treatment Center and Antara Medicine, believes that stem cell therapy is the key to a better future for patients with diabetes.
“Stem cell therapy holds promise in addressing regeneration of insulin-producing cells as well as repairing tissue damage that may have occurred,” he said.
Stem Cells Could Help With Circulation Problems
Circulation problems are an extremely dangerous part of living with diabetes for many patients. Reduced blood flow and circulation can make it hard to fight off infection and can even lead to the loss of limbs.
A study conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that stem cell therapy could help new blood vessels to grow and in turn improve circulation to tissues affected by peripheral artery disease. This disease is a common complication of diabetes that can lead to limb amputation.
Stem Cells Could Help With Insulin Production
A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen successfully used human stem cells to developed insulin-producing cells, which could then be transplanted into patients with diabetes. For now the results have only been tested on mice.
This is one area of stem cell therapy that Herskowitz is studying at the San Francisco Stem Cell Therapy Center.
“Stem cells may offer the possibility of regenerating insulin-producing pancreatic cells as well as recruiting and increasing the body’s immunosuppressive cells,” he said.
Stem Cells Could Help Restore Vision
When high blood sugar is a chronic concern, as it is for most diabetic patients, damage can occur to the blood vessels in the retina. This leads to a condition called diabetic retinopathy, which can ultimately cause vision loss. According to the National Eye Institute, 40 to 45 percent of diabetic Americans suffer from diabetic retinopathy, many unaware of it.
Research is being conducted to find ways to use fat-derived stem cells to prevent vision loss caused by diabetic retinopathy. One study from the University of Virginia Health System discovered that stem cells from donors are more effective in helping stop the vascular degeneration that causes vision loss in diabetes patients.
Studies focused on stem cell therapy applications in diabetes treatment continue at a rapid speed. Doctors like Herskowitz are conducting clinical studies around the nation to provide options for patients while documenting and studying the outcomes in order to further research.