Cord blood stem cell therapy reverses diabetes
10 January 2012
Stem cells from cord blood have been used to re-educate a
diabetic’s own T cells and consequently restart the pancreatic function
needed to produce insulin and reduce the need for insulin injections.
Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body's own immune system attacking
its pancreatic islet beta cells and requires daily injections of
insulin to regulate the patient’s blood glucose levels. The new
method is described in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC
Stem Cell Educator therapy slowly passes
lymphocytes separated from a patient's blood over immobilized cord
blood stem cells (CBSC) from healthy donors. After two to three
hours in the device the re-educated lymphocytes are returned to the
patient. The progress of the patients was checked at 4, 12, 24 and
40 weeks after therapy.
C-peptide is a protein fragment made
as a by-product of insulin manufacture and can be used to determine
how well beta cells are working. By 12 weeks after treatment all the
patients who received the therapy had improved levels of C –peptide.
This continued to improve at 24 weeks and was maintained to the end
of the study. This meant that the daily dose of insulin required to
maintain their blood glucose levels could be reduced. In accordance
with these results the glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) indicator of long
term glucose control also dropped for people receiving the
treatment, but not the control group.
Dr Yong Zhao, from
University of Illinois at Chicago, who led the multi-centre
research, explained, "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. Other markers of immune function, such as TGF-beta1 also
improved. Our results suggest that it is this improvement in
autoimmune control, mediated by the autoimmune regulator AIRE in the
CBSC, which allows the pancreatic islet beta cells to recover."
Yong Zhao et al. Reversal of type 1 diabetes via
islet beta cell regeneration following immune modulation by cord
blood-derived multipotent stem cells. BMC Medicine (in
press, Jan 2012).