Very few people have ever heard of the concept of artificial skin transplants. That will change in the near future, though. Artificial skin transplants may be the one thing we need most to treat type 2 diabetes. The skin grafts based on CRISPR gene editing could yield some very powerful results. Their first tests involving mice were positive, but ensuring the technology works for humans in the same way will be something else entirely.
Diabetes Can Be Treated With Artificial Skin Transplants
A lot of people may not like the sound of artificial skin transplants. It sounds a lot scarier than it really is, however. There is actually nothing to fear about them. In fact, we have been using artificial skin implants for several decades now. Burn patients often recover thanks to these implants, for example. Artificial skin implants have proven to be an invaluable tool in the world of healthcare so far, and it seems the number of use cases may be expanded upon. However, they have never been deployed to treat diabetes up until now.
Scientists have now successfully used these implants to treat diabetes in mice. That is a major development in medicine. The researchers edited stem cells from newborn mice to control the release of a hormone stimulating insulin production. Once the cells were turned into skin grafts, they were given to mice suffering from diabetes.
The mice were not born with diabetes. Instead, researchers fed them high-fat diets to cause obesity. A cruel method, perhaps, though it is not uncommon to see this sort of thing in the medical sector. Obesity is still one of the main risk factors causing type 2 diabetes in humans. People with a high insulin resistance are particularly prone to developing the condition. Diabetes was induced in these mice using some modifications to create viable test criteria.
Once the mice received the artificial skin implants, their insulin resistance levels started to reverse. Additionally, they gained around half the weight as those not given the grafts. This suggests that people can treat diabetes using these implants, although they will not do much for anyone suffering from type 1 diabetes. Those who do suffer from that condition may soon have access to a cheap and efficient solution created from stem cells. The goal is to turn these stem cells into human skin over time.
There may be other clinical applications involving artificial skin implants we have yet to discover. Ever since doctors started treating burn patients with this technique, the quest to find other use cases has been in full effect. Thanks to recent breakthroughs in this field, one can now grow artificial skin in a lab. However, given the lack of human test subjects, finding other use cases has been pretty difficult. This is where the mice come into the picture, even though the results involving human subjects might differ greatly.
This is not a cure for diabetes, but it is an approach to help people maintain their glucose levels. For now, it only works with type 2 diabetes caused by obesity, but it is still an important breakthrough regardless. The bigger question is what other types of diseases may be treated through artificial skin implants.