Diabetes Mellitus is a disease that afflicts more than 200 million people in the world, It causes high sugar levels in the blood, and this in turn causes problems with blood flow in small vessels (microvascular disease) which result in kidney, heart and nerve problems, as well as large ones (macrovascular disease) resulting in blood vessel blockage causing strokes, heart attacks and leg ulcers. Diabetes also, weakens the immune system, making patients susceptible to infections and prone to poor wound healing. 

Insulin is the hormone lacking in Diabetes patients, and they need to replace insulin by injecting themselves regularly with insulin. Insulin allows the cells of the body to absorb glucose from the blood for normal cellular activity.

Cord Lining Stem Cells have been successfully differentiated into Islet Cells that produce insulin. These differentiated islet cells can potentially be transplanted into patients with diabetes to produce insulin within the body without the need for regular injections.

Alternatively, the insulin gene may be directly inserted into Cord Lining Stem Cells to stimulate the cells to produce insulin before they are transplanted into the body using the process of transfection.

Currently, CellResearch Corporation is working with Professor Sir Roy Calne and Professor KO Lee at the National University of Singapore, as well as Professor Kon Oi Lian at the National Cancer Centre, Singapore looking specifically into this exciting area. In the not-too-distant future, Cord Lining Stem Cells could be the solution to this difficult disease.

These data have now also been published in a paper that shows that Cord Lining Epithelial Cells, in addition to being successfully differentiated into pancreatic islet cells, also produce immunosuppressant non-classical HLA called HLA-G and HLA-E which prevent rejection of transplanted Cord Lining Epithelial Cells from the recipient of these cells.

Publication: Zhou Y, Gan SU, Lin G, et al. Characterization of human umbilical cord- lining derived epithelial cells and transplantation potential. Cell Transplantation. 2011; 20: 1827-1841

To take a quote from the publication:

“In conclusion, the combination of the in vitro and in vivo data presented, plus the ease of CLEC derivation, demonstrates the potential of CLECs as a new candidate for cell transplantation.”