Type I diabetes is a chronic condition which usually develops in childhood. Otherwise known as juvenile diabetes, it occurs when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone which allows sugar (glucose) to enter the cells to produce energy. Type I diabetes differs significantly from the increasingly common type II diabetes, which used to be known as adult onset diabetes, occurring when the body becomes resistant to or fails to produce enough insulin.
While research suggests that type II diabetes may be reversible through dietary changes, type I still has researchers confounded. As Science Alert explains, diabetes “involves the loss of functioning beta cells in the pancreas: either these cells die (type I diabetes) or they don’t do as they’re told (type II diabetes)” and while “scientists have been trying to replace these damaged or dead beta cells with healthy ones,” those cells are always destroyed by the patient’s own immune system.
There Is Hope
Fortunately a US patent has just been approved for what could be the first functional cure for type I diabetes. This involves combining cells that deliver insulin with a technology that allows them to hide from the immune system – for years at a time. Called ‘Melligan cells,’ they can produce, store, and release insulin according to the levels of human blood sugars.
Scientists from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have been genetically engineering these cells over the past several years to function in the same way that beta cells would in non-diabetics, releasing insulin in…