Thursday, January 12, 2012

Illinois researcher uses umbilical cord stem cells to treat patients with Type 1 diabetes

Using a device which exposes the patients' T-cells to the umbilical cord stem cells, Dr. Yong Zhao, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, was able to help Type 1 diabetes patients make their own insulin. Dr. Zhao is also using umbilical cord stem cells in a clinical trial on patients with Type 2 diabetes.
In the study the 12 participants had their T-cells – which were separated from their blood – pumped into a device Zhao calls a "stem cell educator."

There the T-cells were exposed to cord blood stem cells for three hours, Zhao explained in an interview with the Star.

The stem cells "re-educated the T-cells", said Zhao, who specializes in endocrinology, stem cells and immunology. "They wake them up and correct their function. The stems cells are like a teacher. The T-cells are like a bad student."

Then the T-cells were pumped back into the participants' blood. The patients were then checked four times after the treatment at four weeks, then 12, 24 and 40 weeks later.

The results were astounding, said Zhao. "The patients couldn't make any insulin before the treatment. But after the treatment they began to make their own insulin."