The number of cases involving people with type 1 diabetes continues to rise yearly. Statistics say that over 540 million people around the world are living with the said condition. While this may sound overwhelming, the research for a possible cure has advanced and progressed positively. Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Boston, Massachusetts, has conducted one such research recently that gives new hope to millions of people with diabetes living across the world.
Stem Cell Research in Diabetes
Over the past few years, research involving stem cell treatment and therapies has made news for various medical conditions, including type 1 diabetes. In 2021, Vertex Pharmaceutical announced its cell therapy research called VX-880 that can act as a “functional Cure” for Type 1 Diabetes.
A 64-year-old patient from Ohio, Brian Shelton, volunteered in this clinical trial with Vertex Pharmaceutical. The company performed an experimental pancreatic stem cell transplant on Brian Shelton, who apparently improved his condition. After about 150 days of the transplant, Shelton reduced his usage of insulin injections by a whopping 92%.
Today, Brian Shelton is able to control his insulin and blood glucose levels without using medications for T1D. However, the therapy that Shelton received wasn’t a perfect cure. Every transplant procedure witnessed the rejection of the transplanted tissue or cells by the recipient’s immune system. After the transplant, Shelton needed to take a high amount of immune-suppressing drugs to prevent transplant rejection.
The FDA initially paused the trial in May 2022 due to a lack of concrete evidence. However, in July 2022, they granted permission to resume this trial with 17 more patients.
The next few phases of this trial will fine-tune the previous phase and focus on reducing health hazards such as immune suppression.
What’s next for type 1 diabetes cure?
The initial plan for a type 1 diabetes cure involved a pancreas transplant. However, the cure may not be possible at all because there isn’t enough supply. In fact, an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 people are already waiting for a pancreatic transplant, with only 1000 pancreas available.
Other than Vertex Pharmaceuticals, several pharmaceutical companies have also begun working on a better T1D cure. These companies include CRISPR, ViaCyte, and Novo Nordisk.