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Stem Cells Could Change the Lives of People With Type 1 Diabetes

0 2 years ago

A man living with severe type 1 diabetes who is part of a clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals appears to be have been functionally cured of the disease thanks to a new treatment involving stem cells.

Brian Shelton, aged 64, received an infusion of cells in June that “taught” the pancreas to produce insulin—something that the bodies of people with type 1 diabetes cannot do, according to the New York Times, the first to report on the revolutionary treatment in November.1

People with type 1 diabetes, like Shelton, are insulin-dependent and have to give themselves injections of insulin to make up for what their body is not making.

Early data from the Vertex trial found that Shelton’s need for injected insulin decreased by 91% after he received the treatment, meaning that his body is now regulating its blood sugar levels on its own.

The outcome is significant, as Shelton had experienced several life-threatening hypoglycemic episodes (low levels of glucose in the blood, which is also called low blood sugar). These lows are common in people with severe type 1 diabetes and can have serious health consequences or even be fatal.2

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