New hope for diabetics after stem cell discovery

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A DRUG said to cure diabetes could mean that sufferers will no longer need to take daily insulin injections.
The treatment uses stem cells made from human bone marrow and has been tested on patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes – which affects about 900,000 people in Britain.

Diabetes causes the immune system to attack the pancreas, the organ that makes insulin, which then controls blood-sugar levels.
Sufferers must take insulin injections to stay alive because if blood-sugar levels are allowed to rise too high or get too low, they could fall into a coma and die.
But early trials by American scientists have shown that the drug Prochymal can stop the immune system destroying the pancreas.
It is hoped the drug could be on the market in less than two years.

Professor Aaron Vinik, a hormone specialist in Norfolk, Virginia, said the cure could change diabetes sufferers’ lives.
He said: “This is a very exciting discovery.
Shock “When people get told they have diabetes, it comes as a tremendous shock.
“They have to live with having to take insulin injections for the rest of their lives.

“In future, we will have a cure that will stop the disease in its tracks.”
Prochymal has proved effective because stem cells in the drug form a barrier to protect the pancreas from attack. This allows the organ to recover and to continue making insulin.
The stem cells are taken from volunteers and then multiplied in the lab to produce hundreds of millions of cells.
In early tests, patients have been given three infusions of the cells into their bloodstream over 60 days.

It has been tested on 60 patients with early diabetes.
Those already on insulin were able to reduce the amount as the stem cells started saving the pancreas.
Prof Vinik said most patients would still need insulin at first but would probably be off it “in a matter of months”.

from Daily record

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