Stem cell research could help reverse type 1 diabetes, says study

Thu, 12 Jan 2012
New research by scientists in the United States has claimed that using stem cells from cord blood could help to reverse type 1 diabetes. It has been shown to re-educate the immune system T cells of patients so that their pancreas begins to produce insulin again, so that the amount of insulin they need to inject to deal with their condition is lessened.

Cord blood, taken from the placenta and umbilical cord post-childbirth, has become an increasing source of stem cells for treating a variety of blood and genetic disorders. Cells from cord blood have already been shown to manage autoimmune responses by changing regulatory T cells and human islet beta cell-specific T cell clones in laboratory experiments.

This research, published in the journal BMC Medicine, presented a way of circulating the blood of diabetes patients through a system that separates lymphocytes from the whole blood, before co-culturing them with cord blood stem cells from healthy donors and then returning the "re-educated lymphocytes" into the circulation of the patient.

It was found that the average daily dose of insulin needed dropped by 38 per cent at 12 weeks for some of the patients with moderate diabetes and by 25 per cent for those with severe diabetes.

Leader of the study Yong Zhao, said "We also saw an improved autoimmune control in these patients. Stem Cell Educator therapy increased the percentage of regulatory T lymphocytes in the blood of people in the treatment group."
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