Stem cells may have an impact on how Type 1 diabetes patients are able to live insulin free.
Dr. Michael Gonzalez-Campoy from Minnesota Center for Obesity, Metabolism and Endocrinology states that this stem cell treatment is only for the patients that have been newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, since the immune system has not destroyed the insulin producing beta cells. He also stated that this study has shown it is like giving a diabetic patient a new immune system that will not attach the beta cells in the pancreas, and taking the old one that destroys the beta cells. So then the beta cells that are left are protected and produce the body's natural insulin.
The stem cells used come from the patient themselves. A small group of twenty-three people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes were selected to do a study to see if they can survive without insulin shot after having their stem cells from their blood removed and reinjected into them after being treated. The patient had chemotherapy to suppress the immune system before the stem cells were reinsert back into them. The stem cell transplants were done at a center in Brazil. Twelve out of twenty-three patients were insulin free for about thirty-one months. Eight of those patients lasted from six to forty-seven months, insulin free. According to a report, one patient even lasted for a little over four years before having an insulin shot.
Type 1 diabetes destroys the insulin producing cells within the pancreas. The pancreas then lacks the ability to produce insulin. People with this autoimmune disease survive by insulin shots. Most patients with diabetes has the type 2. Type 2 diabetes is controlled with exercise, diet, insulin or oral drugs. The researchers do not think this treatment will help this type of diabetic patients since their pancreas can still produce its natural insulin.
Insulin is a type of hormone that the body needs to regulate its blood sugar.
Richard K. Burt, MD; a Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine stated that it is an encouraging finding, but more study is needed before it is known if the treatment will truly help the disease. We will just have to wait and see what lies ahead in the future.
The research team said that stem cell transplantation is the only type of treatment that has shown to reverse type 1 diabetes.