CRISPR corrects genetic defect so cells can normalize blood sugar
Author Name: Keith Howell
Category Name: Medical science
The findings, from researchers suggest the CRISPR-Cas9 technique may hold promise as a treatment for diabetes, particularly the forms caused by a single gene mutation, and it also may be useful one day in some patients with the more common forms of diabetes, such as type 1 and type 2.
Patients with Wolfram syndrome develop diabetes during childhood or adolescence and quickly require insulin-replacement therapy, requiring insulin injections multiple times each day. Most go on to develop problems with vision and balance, as well as other issues, and in many patients, the syndrome contributes to an early death.
"This is the first time CRISPR has been used to fix a patient's diabetes-causing genetic defect and successfully reverse diabetes," said Researcher. "For this study, we used cells from a patient with Wolfram syndrome because, conceptually, we knew it would be easier to correct a defect caused by a single gene. But we see this as a stepping stone toward applying gene therapy to a broader population of patients with diabetes." Wolfram syndrome is caused by mutations to a single gene, providing the researchers an opportunity to determine whether combining stem cell technology with CRISPR to correct the genetic error also might correct the diabetes caused by the mutation.
A few years ago, Millman and his colleagues discovered how to convert human stem cells into pancreatic beta cells. When such cells encounter blood sugar, they secrete insulin. Recently, those same researchers developed a new technique to more efficiently convert human stem cells into beta cells that are considerably better at controlling blood sugar.
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Journal of Cell signaling