According to the results of a prospective phase 1/2 study reported in the April 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association,In an experimental protocol In Brazil, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes mellitus (DM) patients (who needed regular insulin shots) helped achieve long-term insulin free life along with improved beta-cell function.
Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system goes crazy and starts attacking itself, destroying useful insulin-producing cells in the pancreas which is highly needed to control blood sugar.
As per the study report, the average period of insulin free state was 31 months, but in an exceptional case a particular patient manage to enjoy insulin free life for four years, no outside source of insulin was required.
The current approach is more hopeful, because it involves the patient’s own stem cells, not only bypassing the possibility of rejection but also allowing, theoretically, an unlimited number of future cells to be produced.
All participants underwent HSCT, which involved removing the patient’s own blood stem cells then reinjecting them into the body.
Twenty patients were able to stop injecting insulin, 12 of them for a mean of 31 months. Eight patients had to start taking insulin again at a low dose.
Lead researcher Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and colleagues, in 2007 achieved short term success, but they were looking forward if the change lasts for longer time.
Now the procedure able to induce prolong and significant increases of C-peptide levels, even in the group which had to restart insulin there was still a significant increase in C-peptide levels that lasted at least two years.
The study was scheduled to publish in the April 15 issue of JAMA.