World Diabetes Day is marked every year on the 14th
November, a date chosen to coincide with the birthday of Sir Frederik Banting,
who, along with Charles Best, discovered insulin in 1922.
hormone made by the pancreas, is a key player in diabetes. Insulin is required
to maintain blood glucose homeostasis. It is produced by beta cells in the
pancreas in response to high glucose levels in the blood stream. Insulin then
signals to liver, muscle and fat cells to take in this glucose to maintain a
constant blood glucose level. Diabetes is a chronic condition in which blood
glucose homeostasis is impaired or lost due to either the loss of insulin
producing beta cells (Type 1 Diabetes) or when the beta cells become
progressively dysfunctional (Type 2 Diabetes). The absence of insulin results in
hyperglycaemia, which, when improperly managed can be fatal, and many secondary
complications including those affecting the eyes, nerves, kidneys and
cardiovascular system can arise.
There are 2
main types of diabetes:
- Type 2: This type of diabetes accounts for
at least 90% of cases of diabetes, and often goes undiagnosed for a long time.
Sufferers are unable to control their blood glucose concentration due to
insulin resistance, in which the receptors responsible for detecting insulin
are no longer responsive to normal insulin levels. Additionally, the cells
producing insulin become damaged and therefore insufficient insulin is produced
to meet the body’s demands. However, in the majority of cases Type 2 diabetes
can be managed through changes in diet and exercise. Unfortunately, for others
drug treatment is likely to be required.
the theme of World Diabetes Day is “Protect Your Family”. They are aiming to
raise awareness of the signs of diabetes as well as how to prevent type 2
diabetes and how to manage living with diabetes.
Key habits to adopt to try to prevent and/or manage Type 2 diabetes:
- Eating healthy
physical activity: Being active – 30 to 60 min moderate or 15 to 30 mins of
vigorous aerobic activity.
- Losing weight
if you are overweight
sitting still for long time periods
information about Type 2 diabetes visit https://worlddiabetesday.org/
- Type 1: Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune
disease, in which the body’s own immune system attacks the insulin producing
cells in the pancreas. Little or no insulin is produced and therefore must be
injected daily to control the levels of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetes
is fatal without regular injections with insulin. It is not fully understood
why the autoimmune reactions against insulin producing cells occurs.
most common treatment for type 1 diabetes, injection of insulin, only ameliorates
the symptoms of the disease by lowering or normalising blood glucose levels.
The goal of the large-scale research imitative RESTORE is to move beyond merely
treating the symptoms of a disease, to actually cure those diseases currently
deemed “incurable”. Transplantation of islets can normalise blood glucose
levels for several years, although in most cases, supplemental insulin is also
required. However, islet donors are very scarce and the transplanted cells often
evoke an immune response, therefore transplantation is only reserved for a
subset of diabetes patients. Thus, it is necessary to develop methods of
producing unlimited reserves of functional pancreatic insulin producing beta cells.
Huge progress has been made in the area of stem cell derived beta cells that
behave as endogenous beta cells , and there is already an ongoing clinical
trial investigating the safety of transplanted stem cell derived pancreatic progenitor
Additionally, in parallel, research into pancreatic tissue engineering is also
ongoing to improve islet cell engraftment and function and to protect
transplanted cells from unwanted immune responses . The continued
development of Advanced Therapies for treatment of diabetes highlights the
importance of foundational research  to inform the development of and ensure
the future progression of stem cell products onto the market and their
availability to patients. RESTORE aims to support the entirety of this Advanced
Therapies pipeline, from the bench to the bedside, to accelerate the
development and availability of these therapies to patients.
 Veres, A. et al. Nature 569, 368–373
Tissue Eng. 2019 Jan-Dec; 10: 2041731419884708.
 Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 5417; doi:10.3390/ijms20215417