Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Produces Insulin for Diabetics

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Adult Stem Cell Research Breakthrough Produces Insulin for Diabetics Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 10, 2006

Dublin, Ireland ( — A scientist in Ireland has made a major breakthrough in the field of adult stem cell research by producing insulin needed by diabetic patients from the stem cells from the umbilical cords of living babies. The result provides real hope for diabetics because the insulin from embryonic stem cells doesn’t work as effectively and involves the destruction of human life.

Colin McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at the University of Newcastle, will soon present the findings to Catholic church leaders at a presentation at the Augustinian Institute in Rome.

“We have been able to produce insulin-secreting cells from cord blood, which is pretty much a first,” McGuckin told the London Times.

McGuckin said that insulin produced from adult stem cells will be more effective for those with diabetes.

“Although people have been able to do it from embryonic stem cells, they are not transplantable because they don’t have a tissue match for the patient. Cord blood gives a big advantage,” he explained.

McGuckin also told the Times that the process is so effective that embryonic stem cells are not needed altogether.

“We are able to produce many different tissues from cord blood stem cells so we are really the first to rival embryonic stem cells,” he said.

While scientists must destroy human life to obtain embryonic stem cells, McGuckin says they’re in ready supply from a newborn’s umbilical cord and its blood and able to be find in specific matches for patients.

“Ultimately we will be able to achieve the same result from non-embryonic stem cells. Some 100 million children are born every year, that is an awful lot of stem cells if you want to find a tissue type that matches you," he said.

Meanwhile, embryonic stem cell transplants also have problems with cancers and tumors afterwards, but McGuckin said that’s not the case with adult stem cells from the umbilical cord.

McGuckin also told the Times that a little bit of umbilical cord blood goes a long way. He indicated that storing the blood from just one baby born out of 5,000 would ensure enough adult stem cells for the entire population.