VANCOUVER, BC, Sept. 22, 2020 /CNW/ – Type 1 Diabetes (T1D), once known as insulin dependent diabetes, is a chronic condition that causes pancreatic cells to produce little or no insulin. Insulin plays an important role in regulating blood sugar, or glucose, so T1D patients cannot naturally regulate their blood sugar levels.
Current treatments for diabetes are costly with diabetes-related healthcare costs in Canada expected to increase to over $16.9 billion by 2020. They carry costs for patients as well, frequently in the form of negative side effects. One conventional method of treating T1D is the daily administration of insulin to manage blood sugar levels. This treatment is different from the control of a pancreatic cell, meaning patients are more likely to experience the debilitating consequences of improper glucose management. These can include damage to the eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart, and later life health complications.
To regain the benefits of working pancreatic cells, a more elegant approach is to simply replace those cells by transplanting insulin-producing pancreatic tissue into a T1D patient. However, this is not a viable long-term solution. A finite supply of donor working pancreatic tissue available to transplant, coupled with the requirement for the patient to administer life-long anti-rejection drugs that can themselves lead to significant health complications, means that an alternative is needed. An ideal solution is treating T1D with insulin made by pancreatic cells in the patient’s own body, like a transplant – but in a way that hides those cells from the patient’s immune system so anti-rejection drugs are not needed.
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