Testicular Tissue May be Used to Grow Insulin in Men with Type 1 Diabetes
December 13, 2010 10:05 AM
Using insulin-producing spermatogonial stem cells makes the therapy look promising
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC)
researchers have discovered that testicular tissue may be used to grow insulin-producing cells for men with type 1 diabetes.
G. Ian Gallicano, Ph.D., study leader and associate professor in the Department of Cell Biology at GUMC, and his team of researchers at GUMC, have found that men with type 1 diabetes could potentially
grow insulin-producing cells
with their own testicular tissue.
Up until now, other similar forms of therapy for type 1 diabetes patients have failed. For instance, researchers tried transplanting insulin-secreting islet cells from deceased patients into those with diabetes, but the body has the capability of rejecting them. In addition, researchers have used induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, which are adult stem cells that act like embryonic stem cells by being programmed with other types of genes, in the past to cure mice of diabetes. The problem with this therapy was that it caused teratomas, or
, in transfected tissue.
But now, Gallicano and his team have found a new stem cell therapy. They extracted human spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) from the testicular tissue of a deceased patient, and found that these stem cells could transform into beta islet cells that secrete insulin, which are usually found
within the pancreas
. Just 1 gram of testicular tissue produced 1 million stem cells.
What makes this new process unique is that the stem cells are capable of morphing into the insulin-producing beta islet cells without the use of any extra genes, which are used in most labs to help transform stem cells into various kinds of tissue. They have the ability to transform without additional genes because SSCs already have the required genes needed to become
embryonic stem cells
"No stem cells, adult or embryonic, have been induced to secrete enough insulin yet to cure diabetes in humans, but we know SSCs have the potential to do what we want them to do, and we know how to improve their yield," said Gallicano.
Gallicano and his team have already tested this therapy on diabetic mice. They transplanted the SSCs into the backs of diabetic mice, and found that the cells produced enough insulin to decrease glucose levels for a week. The GUMC team plan to improve the therapy so that it can last longer.
This study was presented at the 50th annual meeting of the
American Society for Cell Biology
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