In October 2014 Harvard professor Douglas Melton announced a breakthrough in the treatment of type-1 diabetes by creating stem cells that produce insulin.
Melton demonstrated that mice treated with transplanted pancreatic cells are still producing insulin months after being injected. Testing in primates is now underway at the University of Chicago, and clinical studies in humans should begin in just a few years.
"Most patients are sick of hearing that something's just around the corner," says Melton, but he’s convinced that his research represents a significant turning point in the fight against diabetes.
Type-1 diabetes, which usually occurs in children, is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks its own beta cells of the pancreas and destroys their ability to make insulin. It’s a devastating lifelong chronic condition, which affects some three million Americans and 400,000 English people. Treatment is daily insulin doses, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
Dr Sufyan Hussain is Consultant Physician in Diabetes and Endocrinology at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer at King's College London and Honorary Clinical Lecturer in Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London.
A former Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Fellow And Darzi Fellow in Clinical Leader ship at Imperial College London, Dr Hussain completed his medical degree and MA in molecular sciences from the University of Cambridge. He served as a Visiting Research Fellow at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School.
He completed a PhD in neuroendocrinology investigating how the brain controls appetite and blood glucose.
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Diabetes is a complex, chronic illness, which requires continuous medical care and risk reduction strategies over and above glycemic control. Education and on-going patient self-management and support are critical to preventing complications and reducing the risk of long-term acute complications.