Endometrial Cells or reproductive cells may one day provide a treatment for Women who have Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is the condition that occurs when the pancreas does not produce or produce enough of the hormone insulin. In Type 1 diabetes, the body’s natural immune system recognizes beta cells as invaders. The immune system then attacks the beta cells until the beta cells are completely destroyed. The resulting insufficiency of insulin causes many endocrine disorders. The hormone insulin performs a series of necessary functions in the body and the lack can affect the growth in adolescents and cognitive ability found in the patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The primary function of insulin is having a key role in the metabolic process. Insulin is the catalyst allowing glucose to be used as fuel by the cells.
Researchers at Yale University have taken stems cells from the lining of the uterus and converted them into beta cells. These cells are the type of cells that produce insulin. Insulin producing cells or beta cells are found in the
pancreas and are highly specialized in nature. Stem cells are the body’s master cells. Master cells are the base cell type that makes up the cellular structure o f our entire body. Stem cells, given the correct stimulation and enviornment can become any type of cell in the body. Endometrial stem cells have been taken and converted into the beta cells of the pancreas. The newly created cells have been transplanted into mice that have been engineered to have Type 1 diabetes.
Currently, the transplanted cells do not cure the disease. While the endometrial cells can be grown into beta cells, the chemical process that makes sufficient insulin is missing. Blood sugar levels in mice treated with the newly created beta cells remained elevated which indicated that insufficient insulin was being produced. The challenge for scientists today is to figure out how to get the newly-created beta cells to produce more insulin.
Women suffering from Type 1 diabetes would benefit from this variation of stem cell treatment when the technique has been perfected.
Another noteworthy development of using endometrial cells as replacements for beta cells is the potential to not need immunosuppressive drugs. Immunosuppressive drugs are used to prevent the body from rejecting artificial organs or tissue that is not the body’s own. Long term usage of these drugs can have side effects of weight gain, increased susceptibility to disease and others so the potential to circumvent the need for these drugs by using stem cells is promising.