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Stem Cell Therapy : How Can It Help Diabetes, Know The Risks

“Human life is surrounded by diseases and symptoms caused by diseases.” There are many diseases which not only affect the human health to worst, but also take away many lives. Diabetes is one among such diseases which has been referred to as the seventh most dangerous diseases in USA, which though seldom leads to the victim’s death. The deaths related to diabetes are caused by ill effects of diabetes on heart, blood vessels, kidney and liver. Diabetes is a chronic disease where the patient suffers from a high sugar or glucose level in blood. High blood sugar if not treated results in following symptoms like frequent urination, fatigue, atherosclerosis, kidney, heart and nerve damage. The side effects and complications results because of inadequate production of insulin by the pancreatic cells known as the Islet of langerhans. The lack of adequate insulin results in increased blood sugar and this disease is known as Diabetes Mellitus. A complication caused by Diabetes Mellitus has been one of the most leading causes of death in United States of America where every year about 200,000 people are reported dead because of the diseases. It has been estimated by the American Diabetes Association that currently about 16 million Americans are suffering from diabetes.

There is no perfect treatment for the diabetes mellitus and a patient has to survive with insulin injections lifelong. Patient may be considered for pancreas transplant if diabetes is not responding to conventional treatment. However something that has taken a major role in the diabetes treatment in recent times is Stem Cell Therapy For Diabetes. This very special therapy actually makes use of the human stem cells for treating any fatal disease including cancer, diabetes, parkinsons’ and nerve damage. Stem Cell Therapy is recommended for diabetes when response to insulin treatment is not satisfactory. The current article will deal with beneficial facts about stem cells transplant in patient suffering with diabetes.

Stem Cell Therapy

An Overview On Diabetes:

Diabetes, scientifically termed as Diabetes Mellitus is a group of metabolic diseases that causes a high glucose level in the blood. Diabetes is caused due to lack of adequate insulin production or lack of proper response from the body cells over the produced insulin. Diabetes is caused by inablity of pancreas to secret adequate insulin. The islets of Langerhans within pancrease are known as beta cells, which secretes insulin. Because of any damage or abnormality to Islet of Langerhans, there is a lack of beta cell production and in turn there is a lack of insulin production. There are three noted types of diabetes as follows-

  • Diabetes Type 1: This type of diabetes is also called as Juvenile diabetes, early-onset diabetes or insulin- dependent diabetes and is caused when there is no production of insulin. Around 10% of people suffer with such kind of diabetes.
  • Diabetes Type 2: This is the diabetes where there is inadequate insulin production or the body cells become incapable to respond to the insulin. Around 90% of the patient suffers from diabetes type 2. Such diabetes type is also called as adult-onset diabetes.
  • Gestational Diabetes: Gestational diabetes is seen usually in the pregnant women during their carrying stage. Here the women suffer from high glucose level, which causes loss of insulin production.
  • Most Common Symptoms Of All The Types Of Diabetes-

Treatments For Diabetes:

“It is true that there is no absolute cure available for diabetes till now. The choices of treatment of diabetes are as follows-

  • For the patients with type 2 diabetes, the level of blood sugar can be reduced to normal level or partially decreased with the help of healthy diet and regular exercises.
  • Patients suffering with type 1 diabetes or the juvenile diabetes need to check blood sugar level many a times in a day. Elevated blood sugar level should be treated with subcutaneous (under the skin) or intravenous insulin injections.
  • Type 1 diabetes resistant to insulin is treated with Pancreas transplant, which is a major surgery and need a donor of pancreas.
  • There is also availability of Islet transplantation so as to treat diabetes via transplanting new Islet of Langerhans in Pancreas which helps in growing the beta cells for producing insulin. However because of lack of donor islet, it becomes a difficult task to perform Islet transplantation in diabetes on a large ground.
  • A promising therapy coming to existence in recent times for treating diabetes in an absolute way is the Stem Cell Therapy.

What Are Stem Cells & Stem Cell Therapy:

The stem cells are actually the undifferentiated cells found in the multi cellular organism, which can be differentiated in to any other type of cells and are capable enough to divide via mitotis to further stem cells. So the prime most property of stem cells is their self-renewal. There are mainly three types of stem cells studied widely. These three types of stem cells include:

  • Embryonic Stem Cells: These are the stem cells which are isolated from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst of an early stage embryo.
  • UCB Stem Cells: UCB stem cells are the umbilical cord blood stem cells which are taken from the Umbilical cord blood, especially during the childbirth. The blood from umbilical cord vein carries a large amount of stem cells which can be collected, preserved and be used in many ways for treating many fatal diseases in the child or also the siblings from same parents.
  • Adult Stem Cells: These are the stem cells derived from the fully grown adult tissues. They are also called as the somatic stem cells and help in repairing and maintain the tissue in which these stem cells are found. Most researches are carried from adult stem cells.

Now, coming down to stem cell therapy, it can be rightly said that stem cell therapy is the treatment procedure where there is a use of the stem cells for treating any disease or repairing of any body parts or tissue. Following section will let you know about some of the most important facts about the stem cell therapy.

Facts About Stem Cell Therapy:

  • Stem cell therapy is the therapy which makes use of the stem cells in it so as to repair any cell or tissue type and also for growing new cell types.
  • All the three main types of stem cells can be used in the stem cell therapy. Almost all research has been conducted using mouse embryonic stem cells and also human embryonic stem cells. Adult stem cells keep enough room for stem cell treatments, where stem cells from the patient’s own body or own adult tissue can be taken in the therapy for treating any damaged portion.
  • Bone marrow transplantation is one of the first human biological cell therapy discovered and tried for decades.
  • This therapy has enough potential to treat diseases like cancer, parkinsons’, diabetes, spinal cord injuries, retinal disease like the neovascularization etc.
  • Successful treatments via stem cell therapy have been noticed in case of some corneal diseases, skin or bone injuries where the tissue grafting depends on the stem cells from the respective organs.
  • The best benefits from stem cell therapy come from treatment of a type of blood cancer called Leukemia.

How Can The Stem Cell Therapy Help in Treating Diabetes?

As mentioned earlier there is a difficulty in finding enough of donor for Islet transplantation. The lack of donor islet cells can be overcome by the Stem Cell Therapy, which involves the use of embryonic stem cells. Stem cells stimulate the secretion of new beta cells in Islet of Langerhans which produces insulin. The treatment is known as reprogramming of a patient’s own beta cells via induced pluripotent stem cell therapy which results in increased insulin production. Research and scientific studies have published the use of stem cell therapy as a major breakthrough in treating diabetes in mice. The similar treatment is tried in human trial and results were encouraging.

Following Section Will Give A Brief Idea On How Could Stem Cells Benefit In Treating Diabetes:

  • Human embryonic stem cells can be used to grow immatured beta cells that can be used in transplanting in to the diabetes patient and made it grow to mature beta cells and produce insulin.
  • Growth of insulin in human body can reduce the high sugar or glucose content in the body and thus help in treating diabetes to a greater extent.
  • It is also found that using the reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) can help in treating diabetes too. By reprogramming the iPS cells, it is possible to regrow the beta cells in patient’s body and help them produce insulin in a better way.
  • Using iPS cells for reprogramming the beta cells to produce insulin in the diabetes patient is much helpful, for it would solve the issue of graft rejection, as the patient’s own stem cells will be used here.
  • There are also ongoing researches in using this wonderful stem cell therapy in patients in a much promising way, where the transplanted cells are not being damaged by the bodies’ immune system. It is noticed that the immune system in a patient’s body usually attacks the transplanted beta cells after the stem cell transplantation. This damage can be prevented by inserting a protective caspule over the transplanted cells which would prevent the immune system cells from attacking them. It is also possible to prevent the destruction of transplanted cells by inserting them in a place inside the body where the immune system cells are less aggressive.
  • The most possible thing which can be done in Stem cell transplantation so as to prevent the transplanted beta cells from immune system attack, is by re-educating the immune system for not attacking the beta cells. This is possible by using the patient’s own bone marrow stem cells for re-educating the immune system. Such a kind of therapy has proven to be positive in the phase 1 clinical trial done with a few patients with diabetes.

Risk Involved With Stem Cell Therapy Treatment For Diabetes:

It is true that Stem cell therapy is highly promising and has enough benefits involved with it. One of the most serious risks in stem cell therapy includes the growth of tumors after the transplantation, especially when the transplantation is carried out with the embryonic stem cells.


Like any new human life begins with a hope of growing and making promising attempts for keeping self alive and lively in the most appropriate manner; the stem cell therapy being one of the most shining treatment procedures discovered in medical science has enough ability to treat many diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s, diabetes etc; keeps every hope on its progressive path for being the most successful treatment procedure in coming days. Keeping aside the risk factors, stem cells have enough potential in them for being the most promising therapy for diabetes cure.


  1. American Diabetes Association: https://www.diabetes.org/
  2. Mayo Clinic – Diabetes: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444
  3. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/
  4. Stem Cell Therapy for Diabetes – Clinical Trials: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=stem+cell+therapy+diabetes
  5. Diabetes Research Institute Foundation: https://www.diabetesresearch.org/

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 1, 2023

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