The use of stem cells to treat diabetes has been in clinical trial for many years. As with all clinical trials, there have been many advancements and set-backs. However, for the first time, there has been an umbilical cord stem cell transfusion into a patient, in the hope that it will prevent them from developing type I diabetes.
We take some time to talk to Nathan Walker; New Products and Research Manager at Future Health Biobank, who has been following the development closely over the past few months.
A four-year old girl has become the first person in the world to receive an injection of her own umbilical cord blood stem (UCB) cells in an attempt to prevent her from developing type I diabetes.
It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to regulate blood sugar levels.
It is hoped that UCB stem cells may be able ‘improve’ the immune system in such a way to prevent it from attacking these insulin producing cells or to at least slow down the progression of the disease.
This study took place at the Kids Research Institute at the Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Australia. There are now plans to experimentally treat a further 19 patients that are considered to be at high risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
It remains to be seen if cord blood can help prevent children from developing diabetes. However, this is a positive step-forward for the use of this type of stem cell transfusion for such a common yet traumatic disease.
Future Health Biobank is passionate about the future treatment possibilities of umbilical cord stem cells. For more information on how to store your baby’s stem cells as well as other diseases that can presently be treated with UCB simply visit: Cord blood and cord tissue cell banking
For further information on type I diabetes read this article