There are 537 million people around the world living with diabetes. And that number is growing.
When people have Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. These cells regulate glucose levels in the blood which the body needs for energy. Blood sugar will continue to rise without insulin, so Type 1 diabetics must inject insulin for the rest of their lives.
But over the past 20 years, significant advancements in stem cell research and therapies have revealed promising methods of creating new insulin-making cells, which are needed to cure Type 1 diabetes.
Biotech company Vertex Pharmaceuticals recently began a clinical trial where it plans to treat 17 participants who have Type 1 diabetes with new insulin-making cells derived from stem cells. The first patient in the trial, Brian Shelton, has had positive results. After 150 days, Shelton was able to reduce the amount of insulin he injects by 92%.
Other global companies are also working to cure diabetes, such as ViaCyte, CRISPR, and Novo Nordisk, one of the biggest insulin manufacturers in the world.
Watch the video to hear how stem cell therapy has changed Shelton's life and what other diabetes cures are being developed.