Stem Cells May Stop Type 1 Diabetes
Blood Stem Cell Transplant Leaves Diabetes Patients Insulin Free -- So Far
WebMD News Archive
Early Results, Enormous Promise continued...
The treatment didn't work in the first patient, probably because he had too
few beta cells when he started.
But the next 14 carefully selected patients did much better. All were
treated soon after diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. All eventually stopped needing
insulin -- for one to 35 months.
In an editorial accompanying the study, University of Miami diabetes
researcher Jay S. Skyler, MD, warns against "false hope based on the
preliminary nature of the study results."
Skyler warns that much work remains to be done:
- The study did not include a control group. This makes it impossible to know
what would have happened if similar patients had received no treatment -- an
important factor, given that soon after diagnosis, many type 1 diabetes
patients enter a "honeymoon" period of remission.
- It's simply too soon to know how well the treatment worked, or whether
patients eventually will do better than untreated patients.
- It's not at all clear whether the treatment works because it stops beta
cell destruction or whether it allows beta cells to regenerate.
Skyler also notes that this treatment isn't the only cellular treatment now
being developed for type 1 diabetes. Other treatments include infusions of
regulatory cells to reorient autoimmune cells, umbilical cord cells, embryonic
or adult stem cells, and bone marrow transplant.
"As these further studies confirm and build on the results of Voltarelli
and colleagues -- the time may indeed be coming for starting to reverse and
prevent type 1 diabetes mellitus," Skyler suggests.