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First Use of Cord Blood to Alter Course of Type 1 Diabetes
The American Diabetes Association, the nation’s leading voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy, conducted a pilot study on the effect of cord blood in children with type 1 diabetes. The report was presented at the American Diabetes Association’s 67th Annual Scientific Session.
Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the U.S. There are close to 21 million Americans who have diabetes, a group of serious diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to product and/or use insulin. Diabetes can lead to complications such as, heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.
This small pilot study consisted of two groups. In the first group are seven young (2 to 7 years at the time of infusion) children with type 1 diabetes who were infused with their own stored cord blood. The controlled second group consisted of 13 randomly selected children of similar and age and diabetes duration that were intensively treated with insulin.
AIC tests and total daily insulin use from diagnosis to six months after infusion were compared. (A1C is a measure of blood glucose control over a two-to-three month period.) The first group of children who received cord blood had a lower average AIC’s and also required much lower average total daily insulin, than the control group.
Michael J Haller, M.D., Assistant Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the University of Florida College of Medicine and lead author of the study, in a recent interview said,
“Because of the cord blood infusion, these youngsters may retain endogenous insulin production for a longer period, therefore, they may be at lower risk for diabetes complications over the length of their lifetime.” Dr. Hallar went on to say “More important than the potential benefit in these children, this first use of cord blood in diabetes will help us focus on what is in the cord blood that yielded the benefit. We then hope to isolate and grow that cell type to develop therapies for a larger pool of people, not just those who have stored cord blood.” He also discussed how such a cellular therapy might be a component of future immune-modulating “cocktail.” Dr. Haller emphasized that the goal is to determine the factor in the cord blood that is yielding the benefit.
Desmond A Schatz, M.D., Professor and Associate Chairman of Pediatrics at the University of Florida College of Medicine and senior author of the study, cited potential mechanisms for the results in a recent interview. “While cord blood contains stem cells capable of differentiating into insulin-producing cells, and infused cells could have stimulated islets to regenerate, it is most likely that infused regulatory T cells, known to be able to induce autoimmune tolerance, may have prompted a type of immune regulation.” Dr. Schatz, went on to say, “While we have not followed the participants long enough to determine how long these benefits will last, the improvement in blood glucose control appears to be related to the infusion of these cord blood cells.” The children will continue to be followed long term.
For more information on Newborn Cord Blood Banking, click here.