Stem cells save diabetics from insulin
Nikolay Atanasov - April 12, 2007
They can fully heal those suffering from type 1 diabetes in the early stages of the disease, scientists believe
Diabetic patients undergoing stem cell therapy have been saved from the need for injections of insulin, after they started to produce the vital hormone naturally. In the test treatment of 15 young patients with a  newfound diabetes type 1 conducted by a team of Brazilian and American scientists, patients were injections of stem cells extracted from their blood. As a result of the experiment, 93% of participants were released from long-term dependence on insulin injections, reported The Times.

13 of 15 volunteers were able to lead a normal life without the need of daily insulin doses by 21 months to 3 years. Revolutionary results of the survey appeared on the pages of Special Edition Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Stem cells are underdeveloped, "nonprogramed" cells that have the ability to form different tissue types and may be derived from the human body in all ages. Previous studies showed that treatment with stem cells has enormous potential for the treatment of a wide range of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. For example, a study by British scientists on November showed that the injection of stem cells contributes to restoration of organ damage after heart attack suffered.

The lattest study provides the first evidences of clinical efficacy of stem cells and against diabetes type 1. The sufferers from this chronic form of diabetes that usually appears in childhood or early years of maturity, are forced to inject insulin at least 4 times a day. In diabetes type 2, which affects mainly the elderly, is related rather to factors related to lifestyle and diet, such as obesity for example. Suffering from diabetes type 2 control the levels of blood sugar through medication and diet.

As a result of the treatment carried out by Brazilian and American specialists, one of the first participants in the experiment live without insulin injections now 3 years. "We received very encouraging results in a small group of patients in early stage disease. 93% of our patients have achieved long-term independence from insulin therapy with low side effects and zero mortality, indicating the lead author of the study, Dr. Zhulio Voltareli (Julio Voltarelli) from the University of Sao Paulo in Ribeyrao Preto, Brazil (University of Sao Paulo in Ribeirao Preto).

The program involved Brazilian diabetics aged 14 to 31 years in which diabetes was found to 6 weeks before the start of treatment. After extracting stem cells from their blood, they experienced a mild form of chemotherapy to be eliminated white blood cells, impairing the pancreas. After this passage was their own blood stem cells that contribute to the restoration of their immune system.

Co-author of the study, Dr. Richard Burt (Richard Burt) from the Institute of Medicine "Faynbarg" at Northwestern University in Chicago (Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago), states that 14 of 15 patients achieved long-term independence from synthetic insulin, such as 11 are completely stopped the injections immediately after transfusion of stem cells. "Two other patients needed additional doses of insulin within 12 to 20 months after treatment, but were saved from the daily injections needed. One patient had 12 months without injections, but after a severe viral infection brilliant, they need to appear again. One volunteer was removed from the program due to complications of the disease, treatment oboshtva arezultatite Dr. Burt.

The therapy, known as autologous (own) stem cell transplantation (autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation), has already proved its positive impact in many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and skin tuberculosis (lupus).

Dr. Voltareli and his team believe that if the treatment with stem cells begins in the early stages of the disease, it is in a stage to fully restore the immune system, protecting the stock of beta-cells and allowing their recovery.

The diabetes type 1 occurs as a result of damage to the immune system when it starts to destroy insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas, causing acute shortage of the hormone. At present, in which most patients are diagnosed with such, they have already lost 60 percent to 80 percent of their beta cells. From that moment on, the disease progressed rapidly, causing many serious long-term disabilities, including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

In Bulgaria the officially registered patients with diabetes type 1 are 94 678 people, and patients with type 2 diabetes - 153 485 people. The country however has a high degree of hidden morbidity and many cases of diabetes remain undiagnosed, experts indicate.

(on materials of "Bulgarien factor")