Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Stem Cells Promising for Type 1 Diabetes

Insulin No Longer Needed by Some Diabetic Patients Who Underwent Experimental Treatment

Stem Cells for Diabetes continued...

The treatment, called autologous nonmyeloablative hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), involved several steps.

Soon after diagnosis, the patients were given drugs to stimulate production of blood stem cells. The blood stem cells were then removed from the body and frozen.

Patients were hospitalized and given the toxic drugs that killed their circulating immune cells, and then the harvested blood stem cells were put back into the patient.

The first patient to receive the treatment did not improve, probably because he had too few functioning insulin-producing cells left.

But 20 of the next 22 patients treated with the experimental therapy were able to do without insulin injections or greatly reduce their insulin use for a few months to several years.

Patients who remained insulin-independent showed significant improvement in their ability to produce insulin two years after treatment, compared to pre-treatment production levels.

The ability to show direct improvement in insulin-producing cell function is important because critics have questioned whether the treatment really works.

Soon after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, many patients enter what is known as a “honeymoon” period, thought to result from improved diet and lifestyle.

It has been suggested that the early improvements seen in the patients who got the stem cell treatment was because of this lifestyle-related remission and not the treatment.

“This treatment actually stopped the autoimmune process and the remaining [insulin-producing] cells that were not destroyed worked well enough to keep many of these patients off insulin,” Nathan says.

FDA Considering Larger Trial

Study co-author Richard Burt, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, concedes that the side effects seen with the treatment were not negligible, but he adds that the approach is far less toxic than immune system-suppressing therapies given to cancer patients.

“I think people will have to judge for themselves if the potential risks of this treatment outweigh the long-term risks associated with type 1 diabetes progression,” he tells WebMD.

The treatment has not been tried in young children. The youngest study participant was 13 and the oldest was 31.

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
jennie brand miller

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner