Cord blood stem cells stimulate insulin production in type 1 diabetes

Umbilical cord blood stem cells can stimulate the pancreas to produce insulin in people with type 1 diabetes, according to a report published on EndocrineToday.com.

In a clinical trial, a treatment called “stem cell educator” reversed autoimmunity in type 1 diabetes patients thought to have no ability to produce insulin.

The therapy promoted the regeneration of islet beta cells as well.

The study was conducted in China on 15 patients with a media age of 29 years and a median history of 8 years of diabetes.

According to the article, the procedure circulated patients' blood through a closed-loop system. It separates lymphocytes from the blood and co-cultures them with adherent cord blood stem cells before returning them to the circulation system.

After 12 weeks of treatment, patients with moderate type 1 diabetes and some residual beta-cell function reduced their median daily dose of insulin by 38 percent. Those with severe disease and no beta-cell function reduced their dose by 25 percent. All patients maintained this reduced daily insulin dose throughout the 24-week trial period.

Patients with moderate disease reduced their median HbA1c by 1.91 percent at 12 weeks after treatment. Patients with severe disease reduced their median HbA1c by 1.68 percent. The HbA1c test shows the average amount of glucose in the blood.

Patients with severe disease and no beta-cell function had improved fasting C-peptide levels at 12 and 24 weeks after treatment. A C-peptide test measures the level of this peptide, which is usually found in amounts equal to insulin.

Patients with moderate disease and some residual beta-cell function also showed improved fasting C-peptide levels at 12 and 24 weeks after treatment.

Those patients in the moderate range showed an improved response to the C-peptide test after oral glucose tolerance test at 4 and 12 weeks. Patients in the severe category demonstrated improvements only after the glucose tolerance test at 12 weeks.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body does not produce insulin. Only about 5 percent of the nearly 26 million US diabetes patients have this form of the disease.

Sources: EndocrineToday.com, WebMD

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