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UBC researchers test new treatment for diabetes using stem cells

WATCH: A potential breakthrough in the treatment of one of the fastest growing diseases in Canada is being developed at UBC. Linda Aylesworth reports.

A new type of treatment for diabetes using stem cells is being pioneered by scientists at the University of British Columbia.

Results from a study published today in Stem Cell Reports showed that stem cells were used to reverse Type 2 diabetes in mice.

WATCH: Type 2 diabetes on the rise in B.C. youth

In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas produces little or no insulin, which allows cells to metabolize sugar. UBC researchers are hopeful their results will help in developing better treatment for Type 2 diabetes.

“The impact of a treatment for diabetes would be enormous. If affects so many people,” said Dr. Jenny Bruin, one of the researchers involved in the project.

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The improvements only came when researchers combined giving the mice pancreatic-like cells grown in a laboratory with a high-fat, high-calorie diet.

“Both treatments on their own were ineffective…but when we combined them together, they worked very well both to reduce blood sugar levels and also body weight,” said Bruin.

The combination therapy is already being used on a small number of people in clinical trials in California. UBC researchers are hopeful the same happens in Canada soon.