China achieves complete cure for diabetes and ends insulin dependency

Chinese scientists have successfully cured a patient of diabetes using an innovative cell therapy. This pioneering treatment, a collaboration between Shanghai Changzheng Hospital, the Centre for Excellence in Molecular Cell Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Renji Hospital, was detailed in the journal Cell Discovery on April 30.

According to a report by the South China Morning Post, the patient received the cell transplant in July 2021. Astonishingly, within just eleven weeks, he no longer needed external insulin. Over the following year, he gradually reduced and eventually ceased taking oral medication for blood sugar control. “Follow-up examinations showed that the patient’s pancreatic islet function was effectively restored,” said Yin, one of the lead researchers. The patient has been insulin-free for 33 months now.

The breakthrough represents a significant step forward in cell therapy for diabetes. Timothy Kieffer, a professor at the University of British Columbia, commended the study, stating, “I think this study represents an important advance in the field of cell therapy for diabetes.”

Diabetes is a chronic disease that impairs the body’s ability to convert food into energy, leading to severe complications if not properly managed. Traditional treatments require insulin injections and continuous monitoring, which can be cumbersome for patients.

The new therapy involves programming the patient’s peripheral blood mononuclear cells, transforming them into “seed cells” to recreate pancreatic islet tissue in an artificial environment. This technique harnesses the body’s regenerative capabilities, a cutting-edge field known as regenerative medicine.

“Our technology has matured and it has pushed boundaries in the field of regenerative medicine for the treatment of diabetes,” Yin stated.

China, which has the highest number of diabetes patients globally, faces a substantial healthcare burden. According to the International Diabetes Federation, 140 million people in China have diabetes, with 40 million relying on lifelong insulin injections. This new cell therapy could significantly alleviate this burden.

Kieffer noted that if this cell therapy approach proves effective in larger studies, “it can free patients from the burden of chronic medications, improve health and quality of life, and reduce healthcare expenditures.” However, he emphasized the necessity of further studies involving more patients to confirm these promising results.

This groundbreaking development not only offers hope for millions of diabetes patients in China but also represents a major advancement in the global fight against this chronic disease.

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