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Engineered MSCs Improve Diabetes Therapy

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A pretty “sweet” Stem Cells article has been hitting the news this week. The research labs of Robert Sackstein and Reza Abdi have described a method to improve the therapeutic effects of infused mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in the treatment of type 1 diabetes (T1D).

In T1D, the immune system attacks and destroys the pancreatic islets which usually produce insulin, and previous studies have shown that the immune-suppressive and anti-inflammatory effects of MSCs could inhibit islet destruction in mice. Direct injection of MSCs into the pancreas would be optimal but is not a viable option, and so the less effective intravenous route is usually used. To improve homing of MSCs to the pancreatic islets the group engineered MSCs to express the surface marker HCELL which promoted the migration of cells towards the inflamed pancreatic islets. This led to long term blood sugar stabilization, suggesting that this strategy may eliminate the need for insulin administration in T1D sufferers.

We hope this brief review has “sweetened” the deal, and you will go on to read this excellent study (Abdi et al).