Adult Stem Cells And Diabetes

While the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is backing embryonic stem cell research doctors in India may have found a way to use existing stem cells in your own body to help with some of the most negative effects of diabetes.

A common problem for patients is a marked decrease in blood circulation in the lower limbs. Peripheral Artery Disease is often the result and is a condition that can often mean amputation for diabetics.

It is with that background in mind that the following story was related to doctors in New York recently at the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

A 64 year-old patient had already lost one leg and the big toe on his remaining leg to amputation caused by Peripheral Artery Disease. The latest diagnosis indicated his remaining leg might also need to be amputated.



While this patient was a prime candidate for amputation the report stated, “The doctors then removed 240 ml of blood from the bone marrow. From it, 40 ml with a high concentration of stem cells was collected. After an angiogram, doctors injected this blood, rich in stem cells into 40 spots between his knee and foot.”

These stem cells pulled directly from the patients own bone marrow allowed pain relief in a month, walking in two and normal activity within three months. The leg was not amputated and the patient improved dramatically.

Dr V Balaji, vascular surgeon, Apollo Hospitals indicated, “Science is demonstrating that adult stem cells regenerate ischemic arteries by stimulating angiogenesis in the areas of damaged tissue, thereby restoring proper blood circulation to the limbs.” These were limbs that were routinely amputated until recently.

This study was conducted by the department of vascular surgery at the Sri Ramachandra Medical College Hospital and Research Institute in Chennai, India.

The prevailing understanding of this study is that by relocating adult stem cells that exist in your body it may be possible to help correct damage caused by diabetes and other ailments. This may be over simplified and certainly the medical community at large will want to see more studies before implementing such a procedure on a nationwide basis, however there is one 64-year old in India who is quite pleased that doctors were able to relocate stem cells and save his leg in the process.

There remains some debate about the ethical use of embryonic stem cells, but the approach in this report harvested stem cells from the patient using blood from their own bone marrow. Those compatible stems cells were then reinjected into areas where improvement was needed. The finding seems to indicate unprecedented success and may serve to foster greater research into adult stem cells as a means of improving the quality of life for diabetics.

Meanwhile, pushing full steam ahead in the U.S. is a drug called Prochymal that is based on adult stem cell research and has shown incredible promise in treating four separate diseases including Type 1 diabetes. A deal has already been struck with parent company Osiris to market the drug outside the U.S. in a financial arrangement that may be worth in excess of $1 billion.  The National Institute on Health (NIH) has “at least 7 medical and life science studies where ‘adult stem cells’ and diabetes treatments are mentioned.”

Adult stem cell research in Germany has provided vital clues as to the effectiveness of this type of treatment and provided countless success stories as well.

We may find that our own bodies may provide some of the best answers to managing the worst of diabetes.