A new technique in treating diabetes may soon happen, and it's something not everyone could have expected. It's certainly an idea outside the box. In short, a bit weird.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo were able to develop new pancreases from mouse stem cells in the bodies of rats, and then transplanted those pancreases into mice. To make this happen, they implanted mouse pluripotent stem cells, which can become any cell in the body, into early rat embryos.
A mouse, a mouse made with rat stem cells, a rat with mouse stem (c) Science
Eventually, they created genetically-modified rats, which were unable to develop their own pancreas. These rats rely on the mouse cells for the development of the organ. Once the rats have grown, the researchers transplanted the insulin-producing cells into mice with induced diabetes.
These transplanted mouse cells grew and developed into pancreases that were the appropriate size for rats and had the key, insulin-secreting "islet cells."
“We found that the diabetic mice were able to normalize their blood glucose levels for over a year after the transplantation of as few as 100 of these islets,” Hiromitsu Nakauchi, MD, PhD, a professor of genetics at Stanford and author of the study told the Stanford Medicine
“Furthermore, the recipient animals only needed treatment with immunosuppressive drugs for five days after transplantation, rather than the ongoing immunosuppression that would be needed for unmatched organs.”
The transplants were able to function like healthy pancreas, which stabilized blood sugar levels of the mice to normal for more than a year. Details of the study are published this month in Nature
"We examined them closely for the presence of any rat cells, but we found that the mouse's immune system had eliminated them," Nakauchi said in a statement
. "This is very promising for our hope to transplant human organs grown in animals, because it suggests that any contaminating animal cells could be eliminated by the patient's immune system after transplant."