What is a cell therapy for diabetes?
This is a method of treating diabetes by injecting stem cells - own or donor. The method is based on the ability of the body to reproduce damaged structures of the body.
Can stem cells cure diabetes?
Stem cell treatment can produce positive results when treating Type 1 diabetes. The treatment makes it possible to reduce the dose of insulin and the number of injections, as well as reduce the amount of sugar reducing agents. In treating Type 2 diabetes mellitus, it helps achieve prolonged remission.
How does stem cells influence the complications of diabetes?
Cell therapy for diabetes is capable of both preventing complications and eliminating the existing ones.
The treatment has a regenerative effect on such complications of diabetes as:
Stem cells replace the damaged ones and stimulate the formation of new tissue.
What stem cells are used to treat diabetes?
- Autologous or donor cells from the umbilical cord blood or umbilical cord. The umbilical cord blood which was collected at the time of the child's birth is unfrozen. The material is stored in the cryobank. It is possible to use both own material and cells of a relative or a donor who is not a relative.
- Own cells taken from fat. To achieve this, the doctor takes a puncture with a syringe of adipose tissue from the patient under local anesthesia.
- Peripheral blood cells are extracted by a process called leukocytapheresis. The blood of the patient (or compatible donor) circulates through an apheresis apparatus for several hours. In the process, the necessary type of cells is separated.
- Cells from own or donor bone marrow. Using a wide needle, the bone marrow puncture is taken from the sternum or femur.
- Fetal cells taken from an aborted fetus. The fetus is used from about 6 weeks of gestation. This type of stem cells is used only in some countries.
How cell therapy applied for the treatment of diabetes?
- Before having cell therapy, the patient undergoes a thorough diagnosis. If there are no contraindications, preparatory therapy is prescribed. The goal is to stabilize the sugar content in the patient's blood.
- Stem cells are taken using one of the methods, described above. In case the material is allogenic, it is thawed and injected intravenously.
- After the introduction of stem cells, the patient is prescribed maintenance medication. The patient should be observed as an outpatient, blood sugar levels are monitored and patient follows a diabetic diet after therapy. This is necessary to monitor the dynamics of improvements and to adjust treatment as needed.
How stem cells act in the management of diabetes?
In case of the Type 1 diabetes mellitus:
- Stem cells are transformed into beta cells of the pancreas, where they start to produce insulin
- They stop the autoimmune factor i.e, an attack on the patient's own protective functions of the body
In case of the Type 2 diabetes mellitus:
- Stem cells increase the sensitivity of cellular receptors to insulin
- Stem cells are transformed into vascular cells, stimulating them to regenerate after being damaged (as a result of the interaction of proteins with sugar)
Who can undergo stem cells treatment for diabetes?
Any patient who has no contraindications can try cell therapy for diabetes.
Who cannot undergo stem cells treatment for diabetes?
Cell therapy for treating diabetes is contraindicated for patients who:
- Have an acute stage of infectious or chronic diseases
- Pregnant or are in the period of lactation
In this case, the patient needs to achieve remission / give birth / wait for the termination of lactation. Only after that, will it be possible to start the therapy of diabetes with stem cells.
How effective is cell therapy for Type 1 diabetes?
Stem cells treatment for Type 1 diabetes is an alternative to traditional replacement therapy. However, treatment with stem cells does not exclude insulin injections. Cell therapy can only eliminate complications and reduce the dose of substitution drugs, but not replace them. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which can not be completely cured.
How effective is cell therapy for Type 2 diabetes?
Patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus, who have undergone cell therapy, can expect a long-term remission up to full recovery. In this form of diabetes, the body produces enough insulin. The problem is in the cell receptors, which lose sensitivity to insulin. Stem cells can instruct the body "fix" this function, producing new cells with "healthy" receptors.
Is it safe to use stem cells for treating diabetes?
There is not a single medical case where a direct link between tumor formation and cell therapy for treating diabetes has been proved.
At what stage of development are clinical studies of stem cell treatment for diabetes?
At the beginning of 2017 the United States completed the second phase of testing cell therapy for Type 1 diabetes. The method is based on the complete destruction of the immune system. In a similar way, oncological blood diseases are treated all over the world. First, the hematopoietic (hematopoietic) stem are drawn from the patient. Then, with the help of cytostatics, the immune system of the organism is suppressed. After the hematopoiesis system of the patient is destroyed, the patient is introduced with the cells which were removed in advance. This approach enables doctors to restart the hematopoiesis process. This way the researchers hope to "fix" the immune system, and prevent it from attacking its own organism. At the end of this phase, patients who have participated in the tests have a long-term remission - an average of 3.5 years. The pancreas cells of these patients partially resumed their function of producing insulin.
What is the process of stem cell treatment for diabetes?
- After cells are collected with the process of leukocytapheresis, they are cryopreserved with liquid nitrogen
- After 2-3 weeks the patient undergoes conditioning: immunosuppressors are prescribed(drugs that suppress the immunity)
- Then, the stem cells are thawed and injected intravenously
- After the engraftment process the patient is discharged
- Within the next 2 months the patient undergoes weekly outpatient examinations: clinical, hematological, metabolic and immunological assessments
- Later - examination for the period of 5 years
Who performs stem cell treatment?
Treatment of diabetes with stem cells is currently being studied in a number of countries at the research centers and clinics. Treatment is appointed on the basis of a medical consultation where doctors from different specialties participates.
Choose treatment abroad and you will for sure get the best results!
Author: Dr. Nadezhda Ivanisova