Coincidentally, a breakthrough study released Tuesday finds Type 1 Diabetes patients using stem cells, not embryonic but their own, were able to live without insulin for up to three years.
"This is the first time in the history of diabetes that patients have gone an interval, an interval up to three years, and perhaps longer, only time will tell, requiring no treatment, no insulin, no immune suppression, no medications at all," Dr. Richard Burt said.
Dr. Burt, of Northwestern University, designed the study, which took place in Brazil. The goal was to replace patients' faulty immune systems, which destroy islet cells in the pancreas and trigger the diabetes.
In this study, doctors removed the patients' own stem cells from their blood and froze them. The patients underwent chemotherapy for four days to weaken their immune systems. That way their bodies were more receptive to the stem cells when doctors put them back in the patients. The procedure is highly experimental and dangerous. But in this study, in a group of 15, it was safe and effective, in all but one.