CHICAGO, April 14 People with type 1 diabetes
who got stem cell transplants were able to go as long as four
years without needing insulin treatments, U.S. researchers said
They said the process, which involves injecting people with
stem cells made from their bone marrow cells, appears to have a
The study involved patients with Type 1 diabetes, formerly
called juvenile diabetes, which occurs when the immune system
goes haywire and starts attacking itself, destroying
insulin-producing cells in the pancreas needed to control blood
These patients typically need daily insulin therapy to
control their diabetes.
Dr. Richard Burt of Northwestern University's Feinberg
School of Medicine in Chicago and colleagues first reported on
the short-term success of the procedure, known as autologous
non-myeloablative hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, in
2007 but have since looked at how long it persisted.
Writing in this week's Journal of the American Medical
Association they said 20 of 23 patients "became insulin free --
12 continuously and eight transiently -- for periods as long as
four years." The transient group of eight had to restart
insulin at reduced levels.
The patients ranged in age from 13 to 31.
To find out if the change was lasting the research team
said they measured levels of C-peptides, which show how well
the body is producing insulin. They found those levels
increased "up to 24 months after transplantation and were
maintained until at least 36 months," their report said.
Even in the group which had to restart insulin there was
still a significant increase in C-peptide levels that lasted at
least two years, the researchers said.
They said the procedure was able to induce "prolonged and
significant increases of C-peptide levels" in the small group
of patients who were taking little or no insulin.
"At the present time (it) remains the only treatment
capable of reversing type 1 diabetes mellitus in humans," the
"Randomized controlled trials and further biological
studies are necessary to confirm the role of this treatment in
changing the natural history of (the disease)," they added.
(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Alan Elsner)