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Promising results in mice may lead to the elimination of insulin-dependent Type-1 diabetes in humans

A newly published study in Nature revealed encouraging results for the over 300 million people worldwide suffering from Type 1 diabetes. Researchers at MIT and Harvard implanted mice chemically induced with Type 1 diabetes with glucose-responsive mature beta cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells (SC-β cells). After 174 days, not only did the cells not show signs of immune system rejection, but they also produced their own insulin. If similar results are obtained in future human clinical trials, the need for daily injections may be eradicated in people with Type 1 diabetes.


Pancreas transplantation and infusion of cadaveric cells from the islets of Langerhans for the clinical treatment of Type 1 diabetes is nothing new. However, the biggest challenge with this approach is host immune response to the implanted tissue/cells. In order to diminish host rejection, MIT and Harvard researchers implanted triazole-thiomorpholine dioxide (TMTD) alginate-encapsulated SC-β cells, which were successfully producing insulin without immunosuppression or signs of fibrosis, nutrient isolation, or necrosis as a result of foreign-body responses (FBRs) upon their removal at 174 days. In addition, concentrations of human C peptide (a surrogate for insulin production) provided further evidence in mice with the TMTD alginate encapsulated SC-β cells that the transplanted cells remained functional.

The results of this study and successful clinical trials in humans in the future could mean that millions of people who suffer from Type 1 diabetes would no longer need to depend on daily injections of insulin to control the disease. In effect, this therapy would provide a long-term treatment for the disease without the need to take a drug.

Do you, or someone you know, suffer from Type 1 diabetes? What challenges do you foresee in human trials that may not have been an issue for the model in mice?

Enzo Life Sciences’ portfolio includes a wide variety of products for your diabetes research:

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