Sweets anyone? Even diabetics may hope to gobble up one or two without feeling guilty as researchers have found that Type 2 diabetes can be better treated with a combination of stem cells implants and conventional diabetes drugs.
The results published in the journal Stem Cell Reports showed that the combination therapy helped mice to keep their blood sugar in check, even after ingesting a sugary meal.
"Being able to reduce spikes in blood sugar levels is important because evidence suggests it is those spikes that do a lot of the damage – increasing risks for blindness, heart attack, and kidney failure," said Timothy Kieffer, professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada.
For the study, the researchers simulated Type 2 diabetes in mice by putting them on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for several weeks.
Kieffer’s team then surgically implanted pancreatic-like cells that had been grown in the laboratory from human stem cells.
Mice that received a combination of the cells with one of the diabetes drugs became as "glucose tolerant" as the healthy mice, meaning they were able to keep their blood sugar in check.
In contrast, a group of mice with simulated Type 2 diabetes that received the diabetes drugs but not the transplants remained glucose-intolerant.
The combination therapy also produced an unexpected, but welcome result: the mice returned to a normal weight, the same weight as a healthy control group that had been reared on a low-fat diet.
"Their weight loss was intriguing, because some of the common diabetes therapies often lead to weight gain," Kieffer noted.
"We need to do more studies to understand how the cell transplants lead to weight loss," he pointed out.