Stem-cell research to help Europe's growing population of diabetics

February 10, 2014
Stem-cell research to help Europe's growing population of diabetics
Credit: Shutterstock

More than 55 million people in Europe currently suffer from diabetes, and by 2030, this figure is expected to rise to 64 million. Although there is currently no cure, type 1 diabetes can be treated by transplanting islet cells or even a whole pancreas into a patient from a donor. Unfortunately, the number of diabetes patients far outweighs the number of donors. Stem cells could play a vital role in addressing this gap.

Instead of using , new beta cells could be grown from stem cells and used in replacement therapy. There are several different ideas about where to get these stem cells and how they could be used. In order to boost research efforts in the area, the European Commission's FP7 HEALTH research programme recently granted 6 million euro to the HUMEN project which brings together six leading European research groups and three industry partners to focus on the stem cell-based treatment of diabetes.

Despite progress in creating insulin-producing beta cells from human , scientists have so far been unable to develop mature, transplantable beta cells that can cure diabetes. Headed by Professor Henrik Semb from the Danish Stem Cell Center (DanStem), the HUMEN partners hope to make the breakthrough that will improve quality of life for our increasing population of diabetics. The project, which kicked-off at a meeting in Copenhagen at the end of January, will also help keep Europe at the forefront of stem cell research, and create new commercial possibilities and increased competitiveness for the European biomedical industry.

Project leader, Professor Semb noted, 'With this grant, we are able to bring together some of the best stem cell research groups in Europe. I believe that HUMEN's unique constellation of research competences, the inter-disciplinarity, and the very coordinated and collaborative approach that our project is based on, will enable us to reach the goal of developing functional, glucose-responsive, insulin-producing , and thus bring the new therapy closer to the patients.'HUMEN is not working in isolation - it is one of seven projects that were recently granted funding from the European Commission. Although they focus on different disease areas and types of stem cells, they are all working to understand how stem cells work and how to control them so they can be used in treatments for patients. More specifically, they are all investigating underlying mechanism of the self-renewing capacity of and their differentiation into mature functional cell types suitable for various cell-based therapeutic applications. Of these seven projects, HUMEN will be working in cooperation with three: PLURIMES, NEUROSTEMCELLREPAIR and THYMISTEM.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover a new way to treat type 2 diabetes

July 21, 2017
Medication currently being used to treat obesity is also proving to have significant health benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes. A new study published today in Molecular Metabolism explains how this therapeutic benefit ...

Alzheimer's drug cuts hallmark inflammation related to metabolic syndrome by 25 percent

July 20, 2017
An existing Alzheimer's medication slashes inflammation and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome, a potential therapeutic intervention for a highly dangerous condition affecting 30 percent of adults in the ...

Diabetes or its precursor affects 100 million Americans

July 19, 2017
Almost one-third of the US population—100 million people—either has diabetes or its precursor condition, known as pre-diabetes, said a government report Tuesday.

One virus may protect against type 1 diabetes, others may increase risk

July 11, 2017
Doctors can't predict who will develop type 1 diabetes, a chronic autoimmune disease in which the immune system destroys the cells needed to control blood-sugar levels, requiring daily insulin injections and continual monitoring.

Diabetes complications are a risk factor for repeat hospitalizations, study shows

July 7, 2017
For patients with diabetes, one reason for hospitalization and unplanned hospital readmission is severe dysglycemia (uncontrolled hyperglycemia - high blood sugar, or hypoglycemia - low blood sugar), says new research published ...

Researchers identify promising target to protect bone in patients with diabetes

July 7, 2017
Utilizing metabolomics research techniques, NYU Dentistry researchers investigated the underlying biochemical activity and signaling within the bone marrow of hyperglycemic mice with hopes of reducing fracture risks of diabetics

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.