Self Donated Stem Cells Help Diabetics

Autologous stem cell (ASC) infusions appear to greatly improve glycemic control in diabetics. The benefits of the procedure were further enhanced through hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatment, before and after. The findings give some promise to a disease (specifically, type 2 diabetes) that is a growing worldwide problem, and has no known cure.

Procedures utilizing ASC’s, or self-donated stem cells, are fairly new, and possess significant potential due to availability and minimal side effects. HBO treatment is a common procedure performed on scuba-divers, and other individuals, suffering from pressure sicknesses, by subjecting the body to higher than normal air pressure (the definition of hyperbaric).. It’s also been shown to be very beneficial along with numerous stem cell therapies. Says study author Dr. Esteban Estrada, “hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used primarily in the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, air embolism suffered by divers, and as an enhancement to wound healing, has been shown to increase stem cell mobilization and the release of endothelial progenitor cells via a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism.”

Many stem cell therapies for diabetics, including the ASC therapy used in the current study, are aimed at reducing pancreatic inflammations by inducing angiogenesis (blood vessel growth). The HBO treatment helps “mobilize” the stem cells, further helping to reduce the pancreatic inflammation, which leads to better blood glucose control.

The current study is the first to combine ASC and HBO therapies, and the results were very positive, as diabetics were seen to have better glycemic control and lower insulin dependence. Says co-author Dr. Cesar Borlongan, “this study highlights the potential benefits of using an unusual combination therapy to treat diabetes,” a combination that will be further developed through future research.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Estrada, Esteban. Borlongan, Cesar. Ricordi, Camillo. Cell Transplantation news release. March 2009.