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New Diabetes Research Gives Hope for Type 2s

Posted: Saturday, April 07, 2007

Clinical trials overseen by the University of Miami's Diabetes Research Center show dramatic results in treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Stem cells developed into pancreatic cells and...

Human trials under way at the University of Miami and other hospitals in Europe, Asia and Latin America using immature adult stem cells are showing promise for people with Type 2 diabetes.

In a UM clinical trial recently published in the online journal Cell Transplantation, 25 patients achieved better insulin production, lower blood-sugar levels and reduced need for insulin injections.

In the trial, still in its pilot stage, doctors extracted immature adult stem cells from the patients' own bone marrow, purified and concentrated them, and injected them into arteries near the pancreas. They then put the patients into hyperbaric oxygen chambers like those used for divers with decompression sickness -- also called the ''bends'' -- and subjected them to 10 hours of pure oxygen at 2.4 times the atmospheric pressure at ground level.

Researchers believe the high-pressure oxygen pulled extra stem cells from the patients' bone marrow, adding to the stem cells injected near the pancreas. They say the immature stem cells developed into pancreatic cells, regenerating the pancreas' ability to produce natural insulin.

''This could be very important,'' said Dr. Camillo Ricordi, director of the Cell Transplant Center and the Diabetes Research Institute at UM. ``It could be an improved treatment for diabetes, substantially ameliorating Type 2 and preventing the complications of the disease.''

Ricordi cautioned that the optimistic findings come from small pilot studies involving only dozens of patients, and three to four more years of research are needed before practical treatments might start.

''We always have to avoid hype and be careful not to put too much hope in pilot trials,'' Ricordi said. ``But the first results are really promising.''

Two more successful trials over three or four years would be needed before the FDA might approve the treatment. The studies, coordinated by UM's Diabetes Research Institute, will also take place at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Stem Cell Argentina in Buenos Aires and other institutions. 

Source: Diabetes In Control

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