Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Diabetes and (Adult) Stem Cell Therapy

Incredible news comes our way regarding a new therapy for diabetics. Using stem cell transplants from the patients own body a study group of newly diagnosed diabetics have ended the need for insulin injections. While the therapy is potentially dangerous none of the group died and only one failed to be helped at all. The danger is due to the suppressing of the immune system prior to the treatment, much in the same way leukemia patients are prepared for bone marrow transplants.

The study group was comprised of young people, ages 14 to 31 and had newly diagnosed type I diabetes. People with type I diabetes have to give themselves regular insulin injections to control their blood-sugar levels, they become unable to create the hormone naturally.

Though never mentioned specifically in this TimeOnline (UK) article the therapy is another in a growing list of ADULT stem cell therapy successes. In fact the author goes off on a tangent that skewers President Bush for his role in halting Federal dollars for EMBRYONIC stem cell research. Unfortunately this story, this therapy has nothing at all to do with embryonic stem cells. This jab is truly out of place in this article and is another obvious attempt to fool the reader.

CNN also ran a story and to their credit did not stoop to belittling this great accomplishment with rhetoric citing the "most promising" type of research - embryonic stem cell research.

While this is great news for those newly diagnosed it is still questionable if this type of therapy will help those who have had type I diabetes for years. People like myself with type II diabetes will not benefit from this potential breakthrough.

Type II diabetes, generally affects people later in life, is also referred to as "adult onset diabetes" is linked to lifestyle factors such as obesity and sedentary behaviors. Type II sufferers control their blood-sugar levels with pills, or through diet and exercise and sometimes insulin.

From the article:

The new study, by a joint team of Brazilian and American scientists, found that one of the first patients to undergo the procedure has not used any supplemental synthetic insulin for three years. “Very encouraging results were obtained in a small number of patients with early-onset disease,” the authors, led by Julio Voltarelli, from the University of São Paulo in Ribeirão Preto, Brazil. write. “Ninety-three per cent of patients achieved different periods of insulin independence and treatment-related toxicity was low, with no mortality.”

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s own immune system malfunctions and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, causing a shortage in the hormone. By the time most patients receive a clinical diagnosis, 60 to 80 per cent of their beta cells have been wiped out. The disease progresses from this point very quickly, and can result in serious long-term complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

The bottom line is that we should all be encouraged by this as another potential victory for medical science. It should not be used to fool people and obscure the fact that Adult Stem Cell therapy is real as opposed to the "promise" of embryonic stem cell therapy.



Anonymous said...

Another real-world therapy from adult stem cell research... No doubt this is Bush's fault!

Dr. Economides said...

Diagnosis of Diabetes can be controlled and prevented. Always consider the food you take, avoid junks and eat more fruits and vegetables. Have a regular physical activity and lastly, have a regular self testing to track the results of your effort in preventing diabetes.