Tag Archives: diabetes

Stem Cells Could Change Diabetes Treatment

Doctors say stem cell transplants could help people with Type 1 diabetes live insulin-free lives; the stem cells come from the patient’s own body.

From clipsyndicate.com

A Stem-Cell Discovery Could Help Diabetics

By Alice Park, Time.com

Researchers are inching ever closer to bringing the latest stem-cell technologies from bench to bedside — and are, in the process, learning more about some diseases that long have remained medical black boxes.

This week, scientists at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) reported the first success in generating new populations of insulin-producing cells using skin cells of Type 1 diabetes patients. The achievement involved the newer embryo-free technique for generating stem cells, and marked the first step toward building a treatment that could one day replace a patient’s faulty insulin-making cells with healthy, functioning ones.

The experiment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also provided the first good model — in a petri dish — of how Type 1 diabetes develops, giving scientists a peek at what goes wrong in patients affected by the disease. Such knowledge could lead to not only new stem-cell-based treatments, but also novel drug therapies that might improve the symptoms of the disease.

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Stem cells put to test as treatment for diabetes

By Elizabeth Simpson, elizabeth.simpson@pilotonline.com, The Virginian-Pilot

Sarah Piscitelli had barely gotten used to the idea she had an incurable disease – diabetes – before she was sitting in a Norfolk clinic having an experimental solution infused into her vein.

Was the liquid – in an opaque IV bag so she couldn’t see it – a potent mixture of stem cells or a powerless placebo?

She won’t find out for two years, but what she does know is she’s part of a clinical trial that has the potential to change lives.

The 23-year-old Virginia Beach woman was older than the norm when she was diagnosed in February with Type 1 diabetes, the less common variety usually diagnosed in childhood.

The timing of Piscitelli’s diagnosis placed her in a position to enroll in a national clinical trial to see whether infusions of stem cells can kick-start her body’s ability to make insulin.

She’s one of 60 people across the country who will test the idea. If successful, it could eventually change the lives of people in the early stages of the disease. Some 30,000 a year are diagnosed with Type 1.

She received her third and last infusion at an Eastern Virginia Medical School clinic Friday. The amount of insulin she’s had to use each day since the first dose in April has dropped.

But here’s the rub:

Neither she nor the researchers will know whether she’s getting the real deal or a placebo until the end of the two-year study.

Does she need less insulin because she’s in the so-called “honeymoon” period that new diabetics often experience after starting insulin?

Or are stem cells doing the hoped-for job of rejuvenating her pancreas?

“My mom tells me to pretend it’s the real thing,” she said, “because positive thinking itself can help.”

The study is being conducted by a Maryland company called Osiris Therapeutics that is developing stem-cell therapy to treat ailments such as Crohn’s disease, arthritis and heart disease.

The injectable solution the company is testing – Prochymal – is made of stem cells from bone marrow donated by adults, not human embryos.

The Strelitz Diabetes Center at EVMS is one of 20 sites recruiting volunteers with Type 1 diabetes for the trial.

Dayna Buskirk, director of clinical development for Osiris Therapeutics, would not reveal how many of the 60 are enrolled so far, nor how much the study costs.

However, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has seen enough promise in the idea that it donated $2 million to the effort last June.

Typically, if such a trial shows good results, it would be followed by another phase that would involve a larger number of people at even more clinical sites.

In Type 1 diabetes, a person’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Insulin controls blood sugar, and poorly controlled levels can lead to heart disease, stroke, blindness, amputations, kidney disease and nerve damage.

Stem cells have characteristics particularly promising in treating autoimmune diseases such as diabetes.

One, they have the ability to transform into any type of tissue without the body rejecting them, and two, they travel to sites of inflammation. Once they get there, they can prevent further damage and even repair tissue.

“They sense where in the body something is going wrong, and they move in to see what they can do,” said Dr. Aaron Vinik, the Strelitz center’s scientific director, who’s overseeing the local part of the study. “If they find inflammation, they can mend the process if it’s early enough. They’re like subterfuge cells. They get in under the tent flap, and the body doesn’t recognize them as foreign.”

The trick is to call in those cellular troops soon enough. If it’s too late, the insulin-producing cells have already been destroyed.

The study is looking for people who are within two to 16 weeks of diagnosis. The peak age for diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes is 14, but because of consent and safety issues for still-developing children, the researchers are restricting this phase of the trial to adults 18 to 30.

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Einstein On Stem Cell Research – video

PANEL DISCUSSION: Stem Cell Research & Diabetes: Realizing a Promise

At least 24 million American adults and children have diabetes and struggle with its many complications, including heart disease, amputation, and blindness. Scientists believe that stem cell research holds great promise in the quest for a cure for type 1 diabetes and provides a powerful tool for controlling type 2 diabetes.

In a panel discussion, leading stem cell scientists and patient advocates came together on April 29, 2009 to discuss the latest developments in stem cell research and diabetes. The discussion, organized by the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF), was open to the public and drew several hundred people to The Times Center in Manhattan.

Panelists:
Allen M. Spiegel, M.D., The Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Dean Spiegel is the former director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes for Health (from 1996-2006). He is also a former vice chair (2005-2006) and member of the NIH Stem Cell Task Force (2002-2005) and has testified before the House and Senate on stem cell research. Dr. Spiegel provides an overview of the state of type 1 diabetes research from the perspective of a former NIDDK Director who helped shape the NIH research agenda.

Scientists Find New Way to Create Stem Cells

‘Chemical’ programming avoids problems genetic manipulation poses, study finds
From Forbes.com

April 23 (HealthDay News) — Scientists have converted adult cells into embryonic-like stem cells by using chemical programming instead of genetic manipulation.

Gene manipulation is an older method that has posed the risk of serious health problems such as cancer, the researchers explained.

The ability to make stem cells without genetically altering them could lead to the development of many new types of therapies for a wide range of diseases, including type 1 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, the team noted.

“We are very excited about this breakthrough in generating embryonic-like cells from fibroblasts [cells that give rise to connective tissue] without using any genetic material. Scientists have been dreaming about this for years,” research leader Sheng Ding, an associate professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., said in a Scripps news release.

Ding and his colleagues reprogrammed adult cells by engineering and using recombinant proteins, which are proteins made from the recombination of fragments of DNA from different organisms. They experimented with these proteins until they found the exact mix that enabled them to gradually reprogram the adult cells.

The reprogrammed embryonic-like cells from fibroblasts behaved the same as embryonic stem cells in terms of molecular and functional features, including differentiation into various cell types, such as neurons, pancreatic cells and beating cardiac muscle cells.

The study, published online April 23 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, was supported by Fate Therapeutics.