Cell therapies and gene are the future of diabetes treatment

The cell therapies and gene will be incorporated in the next few years as an effective option in the treatment of type 1 diabetes, according to have advanced to the endocrinologists who have participated in the XXVIII National Congress of Diabetes, in Barcelona.

professor Piero Marchetti, who works at the Department of Clinical Medicine and Experimental of the University of Pisa (Italy), explained the past, present and future of this treatment option, which already begins to give some fruits.

Marchetti has highlighted “the significant progress achieved in the field of transplantation of pancreatic tissue, which have renewed the interest in this new form of treatment of type 1 diabetes”, which is diagnosed at an early age.

The specialist has informed that the pancreas transplant is a therapeutic option in patients with type 1 diabetes undergoing simultaneous transplantation or prior kidney disease, with a success rate (normoglycemia and independence to insulin), which currently exceeds 80% at 3 years.

however, we do not recommend this procedure in many cases, due to the surgical complications associated and the need for immunosuppression intense, so that “with this limitation, the transplantation of islets of beta-cell arises as a possibility very encouraging”.

Marchetti is one of the most renowned researchers in the pancreatic islet and the use of embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells or other cell types by using gene therapy to replace the normal function loss in diabetes.

The possibility of achieving the independence insulin through pancreas transplantation or islet beta-cells has increased the number of patients who wish to undergo any of these interventions, with which the transplantation of islets, in spite of the difficulties, “it is a strategy very promising but still must overcome some remaining obstacles”, recognizes the specialist.

Currently, only pancreas transplant (as an entire organ) can be used in routine clinical practice, with warranty and in very specific situations.

“This is not to say that other options for replacement therapy are not advanced at a good pace, but still promises”, according to the head of service of Endocrinology and Nutrition, Hospital Clínic, Ignacio Conget.

“cell therapies and gene will end up being in the therapeutic arsenal, alone or in combination, for patients with diabetes”, according to Conget, for whom “it is not convenient to talk about cure of diabetes currently, because still there are many limitations posed by these innovative treatment strategies”.

Conget believes that “what is really important is that with this type of approaches may improve the prognosis of a person with diabetes, achieving also his or her quality of life is comparable to that of another person without the illness,”.

type 1 diabetes consists of the partial or total loss of pancreatic beta cells that secrete insulin.

In a normal pancreas, these cells act according to the needs of the body producing the insulin necessary to metabolize sugars consumed, because without insulin, the sugar is not metabolized and accumulates in the blood.

in order To avoid the serious damage that the excess sugar in the blood can generate, the patients with type 1 diabetes need a supply of insulin that is injected or applied by means of infusion devices during the entire life.

Since that still has not been given with the definitive key to recover the function of beta cells are lost, the diabetes mellitus type 1 has no cure at this time.

In Spain, more than 500,000 people suffer from type 1 diabetes, which prevents them from metabolizing properly the sugar (almost 10% of them are children under the age of 15 years) and are diagnosed each year more than a thousand new cases.