May 25, 2020
Researcher Gopike Nair and her
colleagues have produced in vitro cells that make insulin and have
successfully implanted them in mice, curing them of type 1
She shares her research with listeners, explaining
Dr. Gopkia Nair is a
stem cell biologist working as a post-doctoral fellow at the
University of California, San Francisco. She has been working on
stem cell research and diabetes in order to reintroduce
insulin-producing cells into patients who've lost these cells and
suffer from diabetes type 1.
She begins by explaining the physiology in different types of diabetic conditions and how these generated cells act like beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. While her focus is on type 1, she says the therapy will be applicable to both types.
In order to explain how this
therapy works, she explores the cause in more detail, reviewing the
immune system's overdrive that attacks insulin-producing cells
after some sort of trigger.
Researchers have found that the disease starts at the beta cell level, exposing a certain protein on the surface that the immune system recognizes and attacks. Scientists are still not sure what the trigger is, but this helps them know they must address this in the cells they've created from the stem cells.
She addresses different ways they are protecting the cells from the immune system and how they will introduce the cells into the body of the patient, most likely through a patch in a vascularized area. Finally, she expects this therapy to be available to patients in 5 to 10 years at the latest.