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Diabetes Cure From Stem Cell Research in Four Years?

Posted: Thursday, December 14, 2006

The first big target for embryonic stem cell research in Australia will be a cure for diabetes, with a top researcher predicting major progress within four years.

It looks like the major results from stem cell research will not come from the US. The Australian Parliament last week passed legislation overturning a ban on therapeutic cloning, which paves the way for scientists to enter an exciting new field of research.
Prince of Wales Hospital diabetes transplant unit manager Dr Kuldip Sidhu said the effort was in "full gear" at the moment and they were waiting for approval to go ahead with their research.

The Bill has been passed and is expected to receive royal assent within a fortnight.

"Type 1 diabetes is the first port of call for us. Once we have the cells in the petri dish, we can see what regulates the disease, how we can understand the disease process and how we can go through drug discovery.

"We can do it in the petri dish, rather than in human or animal tests," Dr Sidhu said.

Embryonic stem cells have the potential to become any kind of tissue, offering hope they could be used to treat illnesses as diverse as diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke, spinal cord injuries and burns.

"We all have a basic understanding of (diabetes) processes. What I foresee with this technology is that we'll start to get some outcomes within three to four years," Dr Sidhu said.

Professor Peter Schofield, a neuroscientist who was on the Lockhart committee which recommended therapeutic cloning be adopted, said diseases and illnesses that have a focal cause would be the first to see results.

"Any disease that has a focal cause would be looked at first. For example Parkinsons' disease, where it is one small region of the brain that undergoes degeneration; diabetes, where you have the immune attack on the pancreatic beta cells; and spinal injury, where there is a lesion you're trying to get neurons to grow over," he said.


Source: Diabetes In Control

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