Stem cell therapy explainedStem cells are regenerative cells that can multiply into fresh cells under the right conditions of the body or a laboratory.These cells are like raw material derived from a healthy body and is introduced into a person with health conditions, to grow and heal the body. .These cells multiply into more healthy cells of an organ and replace the dead cells. Stem cells are of two types:Embryonic stem cells - These cells are derived from an embryo when they are three to five days old.These cells are pluripotent, i.e., highly capable of multiplying into a large number of stem cells or replica cells of an organ.Adult stem cells - These cells are found in a small number in the bone marrow or fat of a person and multiply in limited numbers. Stem cell therapy is a method of retrieving stem cells and administering them in the body to heal degenerative, autoimmune or inflammatory conditions. The therapy is focused to improve the functioning of organs such as the heart or pancreas by repairing their structure and parts.Stem cell therapy in DiabetesThe scope of treating different health conditions with stem cells, is very large. For most diseases, the standard practice is to treat the symptom. For example, in Diabetes, we only treat the symptoms, that is, fluctuations in the blood sugar levels.But there has been no treatment method or cure so far. In stem cell therapy, new tissues can be made to replace the damaged ones to cure the disease. The damaged cells are replaced with new cells that are made from the stem cells. For this, iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells are used to create insulin-producing beta cells in the lab.Research studies in the treatment of chronic conditions with stem cell therapy have advanced very far. Several research groups believe that stem cell therapy could cure insulin-dependent Diabetes in a few years in a clinical setting. Currently, studies are being conducted to study the duration of one implant of fresh cells.Type 1 Diabetes and stem cell therapyType 1 Diabetes is the easiest to target in stem cell therapy for Diabetes because its cause is simple - the beta cells are destroyed. All that is needed is to put new beta cells and the disease is cured. But as it is known, Diabetes is not a simple disease. There are different versions and complications of Diabetes. So, in principle it is simple but in practice it is difficult.New insulin-producing beta cells are made and introduced into a person's body who lost his or her beta cells but the problem is that the native beta cells are in the pancreas. It is currently impossible from a surgical perspective to implant beta cells back into the pancreas, so it should be done in a different place. Another issue is that the introduced beta cells are not the body's own so they will be rejected by the immune system. So, these cells need to be put in a barrier or a device so that they will not be rejected by the immune system but can still live inside the person.Type 2 Diabetes and stem cell therapyType 2 Diabetes is not one disease but a group of diseases. Some people with Type 2 Diabetes only need therapy to increase the sensitivity of their body to the insulin that they already make. That person won't need replacement cells because his or her cells are already working. But there is a whole range of people with Type 2 Diabetes who depend on insulin injections because the cells that produce insulin are damaged or destroyed. There are different versions of Type 2 Diabetes, such as mature onset Diabetes in the young (MODY) that resembles Type 1 Diabetes, Diabetes caused by malnutrition where the cells are destroyed by inflammation and disease caused by calcification of the .exocrine pancreas that secretes digestive enzymes. So there are many different reasons why a person may have Diabetes different from Type 1 Diabetes. It can be termed as Type 2, Type 1.5 or Type 3 Diabetes. All these different types of people with Diabetes may benefit from replacing or getting new insulin-producing cells.BenefitsIn stem cell therapy, the cells will behave like the native cells, so this will prevent hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels). This also eliminates a person's risk of developing a disease related to microvessels. It may completely stop the need for medications to manage the complications that Diabetes brings with itself.People with poor blood sugar control are at a high risk of developing complications such as eye conditions, kidney disease or liver disease. When the blood sugar levels of such people become normal, other associated health conditions may also stabilise and improve over time. In conditions where healing is hindered by hyperglycaemia such as dental condition or foot ulcers, treating Diabetes would help in healing and preventing the recurrence of such conditions.CounsellingEducation and counselling are important because some people may still have Diabetes after stem cell therapy although their sugar control improves tremendously. Such people would still need to check their blood sugar levels though not as frequently as a person who has not received stem cell therapy. They may require checking their blood sugar levels once a week instead of 3-5 times a day. Patient education and counselling play an important role in helping people understand their health and take charge of their wellbeing.