Ethical regenerative medical research, coupled with animal experimentation, is leading toward the alleviation of tremendous amounts of human suffering. Israeli scientists have cured mice with type 1 diabetes. From the story:
Lewis grafted healthy islets into diabetic mice and treated them with an anti-inflammatory drug called alpha-1-antitrypsin, or AAT. Within months, they discovered three encouraging results:
— AAT enabled the newly grafted islets to survive indefinitely, successfully secreting insulin to control glucose levels like healthy pancreas cells.
— The researchers stopped administering AAT and the islets continued to function. “We withdrew the therapy. That is something that is unique in transplant today,” Lewis explained. “There is no approach today that is able to provide a limited amount of therapy. If a patient stops the current protocol therapy, any graft will be rejected: kidney, heart, lungs – including islets.”
— The third result surprised even the scientists. They found that even after transplant and halting therapies, the mice’s immune systems remained intact and were able to reject additional grafts while the original transplant continued to function. Doctors call this state “tolerance,” which means the immune system remains intact and able to attack foreign bodies while protecting the inserted graft.
“We were able to cure a mouse from diabetes by supplying the healthy cells and the mouse’s immune system still functioned,” Lewis said. “This is the closest thing that we can consider to cure diabetes.”
Without animal research, finding treatments for the most terrible diseases simply would not be possible.
Let us hope that human trials lead to equally encouraging results.