Diabetes Reversed In Mice Through Interspecies Transplant

By Anne Dominguez , Jan 26, 2017 12:11 AM EST

A new study opens a new path for diabetes treatment through interspecies transplant. Scientists were able to reverse diabetes in mice by transplanting mouse pancreas grown from rats. The success of the interspecies transplant suggests that the same method could be used to cure humans in the future by generating matched organs from larger animals.

The study was pioneered by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Tokyo. They implanted mouse stem cells into embryos of rats which has been genetically engineered not to develop pancreas. As a result, the rats would have to depend on the mouse cells to develop the said organ. Meanwhile, mice which are genetically matched with the pancreas were given diabetes-causing drugs.

Results of the study were published in the journal, Nature, on Wednesday, Jan. 25. The mice recipients of the functional, insulin-producing cells were reversed of diabetes. They were also subjected to immunosuppressive therapy for days to prevent rejection.

"We found that the diabetic mice were able to normalize their blood glucose levels for over a year after the transplantation of as few as 100 of these islets," Hiromitsu Nakauchi, MD, PhD, a genetics professor and senior author of the study said in a press release from Stanford University. He also pointed out that instead of lifelong treatment, this technique only lasted for days. The sugar levels of the mice were controlled for about 370 days.

The researchers also inspected the transplanted pancreas after 10 months. They revealed that the rat cells were eliminated by the immune system of the mouse. There are also no other complications like tumor formation or other abnormalities. The research not only gives hope to the future of diabetes treatment, but also gives new insight to human transplantation of animal grown organs. The researchers are currently working on other experiment to generate other organs such as lungs, livers and kidneys for animal-to-animal transplants.

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