Stem Cells From Cord Blood Provide Hope for Cure

Published Online: Tuesday, July 10, 2012
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A study published earlier this year in BioMed Central by Yong Zhao, MD, PhD, and colleagues shows a promising possibility for a cure to type 1 diabetes in patients with moderate to severe disease. Fifteen patients participated in this phase 1/phase 2 trial focused on a novel approach to treatment: use of the Stem Cell Educator—a device that functions to “reeducate” lymphocytes to stop attacking betaislet cells so they can grow and secrete insulin.

The Stem Cell Educator is a device that is lined with stem cells derived from cord blood. The blood of a patient with diabetes is run through a blood separator. This separator removes lymphocytes from whole blood, which would be returned back to the patient. The separated lymphocytes then enter the Stem Cell Educator for 2 to 3 hours before being returned to the patient. It is important to note that the patient’s own lymphocytes are returned to him/her and no stem cells from the cord blood are received.

Insulin requirements decreased dramatically and A1C levels improved in study patients. Results were sustained throughout the entire study duration. No study patient had any adverse effects. Because foreign stem cells do not enter the patient, human leukocyte antigen matching is not required, nor is there a risk for graft versus host disease. A big step toward the cure, ex vivo lymphocyte education provides hope not just for diabetes, but for a vast array of other autoimmune disorders as well.

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