Dr Miriam Stoppard: Stem cells could provide treatment for diabetics – Mirror Online

When I read about the stem cell treatment for diabetes from the Mayo Clinic I was reminded of an incident when I was a newly qualified doctor on A&E duty.

A middle-aged lady was brought in unconscious and smelling of alcohol.

“Another drunk!” was the verdict of the senior nurse.

Except it wasn’t alcohol, it was pear drops or acetone. This made me think “diabetes” and the lady was indeed in diabetic coma. But was it a ‘hypo’ or a ‘hyper’ – the treatment for each being very different?

The rule of thumb in these scenarios is to treat as hypo (low blood sugar) because this can cause brain damage. I asked for a large syringe of sugar solution and as I injected it into a vein the woman opened her eyes and asked for fish and chips! Relief all round.

It’s very different today. In what could be a step toward stem cell replacement therapy for diabetes, Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered how to repurpose stem cells to make the hormone that regulates low blood sugar, glucagon.

The Mayo Clinic research in the US, led by scientist Quinn Peterson, has come up with a new method of mass producing a stem cell treatment that’s capable of protecting diabetics against the hypoglycaemia that
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