Gene and Cell-Replacement Therapy in the Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes : How High Must the Standards Be Set?
Recent advances in molecular and cell biology may allow for the development of novel strategies for the treatment and cure of type 1 diabetes. In particular, it is now possible to envisage restoration of insulin secretion by gene or cell-replacement therapy. The β-cell is, however, remarkably sophisticated, and many of the features of this highly differentiated secretory cell will have to be faithfully mimicked in surrogate cells. In particular, insulin is normally secreted in a well-regulated fashion in rapid response to the metabolic needs of the individual and most specifically (but not exclusively) to changes in circulating levels of glucose. Such regulated secretion will be indispensable in order to avoid both hyper- and hypoglycemic episodes and depends on the ability of cells to store insulin in secretory granules before exocytosis in response to physiological stimuli. Furthermore, any newly created insulin-secreting cell will have to be able to adapt to alterations in insulin requirements that accompany changes with exercise, body weight, and aging. Fine tuning of insulin secretion over the longer term will also be important to avoid "clinical shifting" that could be caused by over-insulinization, including increased adiposity and cardiovascular disease. Finally, it will be necessary to ensure that newly created or implanted (surrogate) β-cells are protected in some way from recognition by the immune system and in particular from autoimmune destruction.
- ISSN: 0012-1797