Research conducted by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute has revealed that stem cells found in the pancreas can be converted into insulin-producing cells.
This recent discovery may provide future treatment for people with type 1 diabetes, in which the pancreas does not create insulin – the crucial hormone that helps deliver glucose to the muscle, fat and liver cells, where it is then used as energy.
“In the long-term, we hope that people with type 1 diabetes might be able to regenerate their own insulin-producing cells. This would mean that they could make their own insulin and regain control of their blood glucose levels, curing their diabetes,” said research author Len Harrison, Ph.D. “Of course, this strategy will only work if we can devise ways to overcome the immune attack on the insulin-producing cells, that causes diabetes in the first place.”
The research will be published in the journal PLoS One, and Harrison will also receive the Outstanding Contribution to Diabetes Award from Diabetes Australia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.6 million people who are 20 years and older have been diagnosed with diabetes, 13 million of whom are men and 12.6 million of whom are women.
Some symptoms of type 1 diabetes include blurry vision, extreme thirst, fatigue, hunger and weight loss. The blood sugar disorder can occur at any age, but most diagnoses of the condition are in children, adolescents and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is primarily found in older adults, but rising rates of obesity in young people have caused more cases of the condition to be found in adolescents. The CDC notes that many people who have type 2 diabetes are unaware that they even have it.
In order to prevent diabetes, the Mayo Clinic recommends that people get more exercise, so they can lose weight, decrease their blood sugar and enhance sensitivity to insulin. It also suggests that people eat a diet rich in whole grains and fiber.
The University of Maryland reports that omega-3 fatty acids can also be beneficial for diabetes because they have been shown to lower levels of triglycerides and apoproteins, which are signs of the condition. They also help raise HDL or “good” cholesterol, which may be helpful in warding off diabetes. People can get omega-3s from an Omegakrill supplement from Dr. Newton’s Naturals, chia seeds and hemp milk.