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Cord Blood May Help Kids With Diabetes

Study Shows Kids' Own Banked Cord Blood Slows Type 1 Diabetes

Parent Sparked Cord-Blood Treatment

Schatz says it wasn't his idea to start treating child diabetes with banked cord blood. The idea came from a parent.

"I received a call from a gentleman in Orlando," Schatz says. The man said he was the father of a child with diabetes, and began asking sophisticated questions about the use of experimental treatments. Thinking he was a fellow scientist, Schatz asked about the man's background.

"He said he was a financier, and offered to buy my time," Schatz recalls. "Of course I offered to meet him without charge. We spoke for two hours. And then he said that because he could afford it, he'd banked his child's blood. He said, 'I want you to use it to treat my 3-year-old.' That is how we got started."

So far, the treatment is available only to children whose parents could afford private cord blood banking. In the future, it may be possible to use cord blood from other children. But for now, Schatz and Haller consider this too risky. Even when tissue rejection isn't an issue, transplanted immune cells sometimes attack their new host -- a life-threatening situation called graft-versus-host disease.

"Even though we have treated 11 patients with more on the way, we have received 500 queries," Schatz says. "Parents say, 'I have a child with diabetes and I am pregnant -- can I use the cord blood to treat the older child?' But even with the closest matches you see some graft-versus-host disease."

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