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Shanghai Doctors Use Stem Cells To Cure Diabetes In Medical Breakthrough 

Doctors at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital have successfully cured a patient's diabetes through a pioneering transplantation of pancreatic cells derived from stem cells, marking a global first. The 59-year-old male patient, who had Type 2 diabetes for 25 years, no longer needs insulin injections after 33 months post-procedure. This medical advancement was detailed in a paper published in "Cell Discovery" on April 30.

This achievement follows over a decade of research by the hospital team. It represents the first instance of diabetes being cured using stem cell-derived autologous, regenerative islet transplantation—a method focusing on the pancreatic islet cells responsible for insulin production. Diabetes, a major health threat, can lead to severe complications like blindness, kidney failure, cardiovascular issues, and even death due to conditions such as hypoglycemic coma and ketoacidosis.

China, with the world’s largest diabetic population, has 140 million people with diabetes; around 40 million require lifelong insulin. According to the Office for Minority Health, in 2019, non-Hispanic Black individuals in America were twice as likely to die from diabetes and 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized for it and its complications than non-Hispanic whites. African American adults were also 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes by a physician compared to their non-Hispanic white counterparts in 2018. Moreover, in 2019, non-Hispanic Blacks were 3.2 times more likely to be diagnosed with end-stage renal disease related to diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.

Traditional treatment for severe cases involves islet transplantation from donors, but donor shortages and complex islet isolation techniques limit its feasibility. The Shanghai team, led by Yin Hao, tackled these challenges by reprogramming the patient's own blood cells into pluripotent stem cells and transforming these into pancreatic islet tissue in a lab.

This innovative method not only offers a new pathway in diabetes treatment but also contributes significantly to the field of regenerative medicine, promising hope for millions suffering from this condition. The patient’s successful recovery from insulin dependency and avoidance of further diabetic complications post-transplantation marks a significant milestone in diabetes care.


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