Type 1 Diabetes can be treated only with insulin. Insulin is administered through daily injections, continuous infusion via a pump, or most recently, by way of inhalation. Because Type 1 Diabetes represents the majority of cases affecting children, administration of insulin is a life-long ordeal. But, this just may change.
A study conducted in Brazil using the patient’s own stem cells with input from several U.S. clinical researchers recently showed that 14 of 15 Type 1 Diabetes patients who received these stem cells went without insulin for prolonged periods of time…1 has gone for as long as 34 months without insulin injection. These findings are the first providing clinical evidence that recently diagnosed Type 1 Diabetics can benefit from stem cell therapy.
In the study, doctors removed the patients’ own stem cells from their blood and froze them. The patients then underwent chemotherapy to weaken their immune systems so they would be more receptive to the fresh stem cells. The patients’ own stem cells were then transplanted back, and it was found their new immune system stopped destroying beta cells—the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
When a person is first diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, he or she still has some functioning beta cells. Functioning beta cells are necessary for the success of this treatment. Hence, in the study for the therapy to work, it is only applicable for recently diagnosed patients.
The results of the study are preliminary and must be followed up with more rigorous studies. The researchers feel additional studies are well worth pursuing. The full research paper appears in the 04/11/07 issue of JAMA.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.
CBC News Canada (04/10/07)
The Herald (04/10/07)
Prime Newswire (04/11/07)
Cybercast News Service (04/11/07)
Technology Review (04/11/07)
Associated Content (04/15/07)
Florida Baptist Witness (05/03/07)