Thursday, 12 April 2007

No more insulin shots? A new study offers hope

Filed under:

A tentative new study is offering hope for those with Type I diabetes and has some researchers even using the words "possible cure." Scientists in Brazil and the United States used stem cells to treat 15 patients, ages 14 to 31, who recently had been diagnosed. After suppressing the patients' immune systems, the researchers gave each participant a chemical that excited the stem cells in the bone marrow. These stem cells were filtered from their blood and re-injected into each person. All but one of the study participants showed some level of freedom from injectable insulin, and one person has been free from all insulin shots for nearly three years.

Experts caution that this was a very small test and that there was no control group to compare test subjects to. In addition, researchers don't really know for sure that it was the stem cells that fostered the change or if it was suppressing the immune system that did the trick. In type I diabetes, cells made in the pancreas are attacked by a person's own immune system, causing difficulty in managing blood sugar levels.

So even though it's not clear whether researchers have truly found an answer, it is a glimmer of hope for people around the world who deal with the disease and the pokes and jabs of the needle on a daily basis.

No comments: