{Editor's Note: apparently I'm all over Time magazine this week, or it's all over me...}

Finally, some breakthrough diabetes research that does not only involve mice! Time magazine's August 31 issue reports on new a stem-cell-based study that involved taking skin cells from two people with type 1 diabetes, exposing the cells to "a cocktail of three genes that converted them back to an embryonic state," and then "instructing" the cells to grow into beta cells (the cells that make insulin and don't work in T1 diabetics).human-skin-cells

The researchers then tested these lab-made cells to see if they'd function like normal beta cells by exposing them to glucose. When sugar levels were high, the cells produced more insulin; when there wasn't as much sugar, there wasn't as much insulin. Sounds good!

"These cells represent the newest model of diabetes for humans," says lead researcher Dr. Douglas Melton in the Time article (full study results were recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). "We have a lot of good models of type 1 diabetes in the mouse, but everything that we have learned from them has failed in the clinic. Now we have a chance at figuring out how humans get the disease."

Whether you're a supporter or not, it's working with embryonic stem cells that has made this leap from mice to men possible — and further work using embryonic stem cells could actually help find a cure using other methods.  Let's face it: it's likely that our cure will come from a few different places, not just one strain of science.

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Diabetes is an extraordinarily complicated disease. So complicated, in fact, that they're not even sure what causes it, which is one of the reasons scientists have had such a difficult time finding a cure. Stem cells are enabling breakthroughs. See two other key articles to this end in Time magazine, all written by the esteemed journalist Alice Park: "Stem Cell Research: The Quest Resumes," and "Stem Cells May Reverse Type 1 Diabetes."

For those who are excited about the possibilities of stem cell research, you'll be happy to hear that we have quite an impressive team working on our behalf, starting with the famous Dr. Melton, who's not only co-director of Harvard Stem Cell Institute, but the father of two kids with diabetes, Emma and Sam. This project was facilitated by HSCI, Columbia University's Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center (one of their chief endocrinologist, Dr. Goland, was one of the researchers) and the New York Stem Cell Foundation, which hosted a panel we reported on last spring).

There's even hope that this research will extend to type 2 diabetes, cracking the traditional notion that any cure for type 1 diabetes would do little, if anything, for people with type 2. Dr. Rohit Kulharni, a diabetes expert at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, is quoted in the article saying, "It might even be more relevant for other types of diabetes where there is no immune-system attack."

What's next? Well, one big petri dish, it seems.

petri-dish"Melton's team is currently working to generate thymus cells from diabetic patients in the same way the team created the beta cells, in order to put all the players together in a lab dish, in a kind of biological diorama of the disease."  He admits that scientists don't know much diabetes yet — what causes it, what cells are responsible, how people get it or why, or how to prevent it or reverse it.  Whew - that's a lot of questions to answer, Dr. M! Hopefully we'll soon have a better picture of what goes into this dreaded disease.

Remember that name, btw: Melton. We'll be paying close attention this guy and his team's work on demystifying diabetes in the coming months.

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This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.