Stem Cells Free Diabetics From Insulin Shots in Study

Young adults newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes avoided insulin shots for an average of 31 months when they got infusions of stem cells from their own blood, researchers said.

The study, reported today in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 20 of 23 patients treated with their own stem cells reduced or ended dependence on insulin as their bodies took over production of the hormone. Twelve patients stayed off insulin for extended periods, while eight relapsed and returned to low-dose shots. Three didn’t respond.

The research is part of a broad-based push to cure diabetes, which can cause cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage. Scientists said the next step is to compare stem-cell transplants with intensive insulin injection therapy in a clinical trial, research that must get authority to proceed from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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