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Stem cell therapy could reverse Type 2 diabetes for some, study finds

By
Kyle Barnett
Stem cell therapy could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin treatment for Type 2 diabetes patients, according to a Vietnamese clinical trial. File Photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
Stem cell therapy could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin treatment for Type 2 diabetes patients, according to a Vietnamese clinical trial. File Photo by Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock

June 3 (UPI) -- Stem cell therapy using cells produced from a patient's own bone marrow may reduce reliance on insulin or other medications for Type 2 diabetes treatment, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine.

A clinical trial conducted at Vinmec Research Institute of Stem Cell and Gene Technology in Hanoi found that stem cell treatment allowed some patients to reduce or eliminate their need for other medications for at least some period of time, researchers said.

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Bone marrow stem cells are able to turn into any cell type and as such have been widely explored for disease treatment, including research in recent years to evaluate their potential against diabetes.

Researchers have also investigated the use of other stem cells, such as those harvested from umbilical cords, for treatment against diabetes.

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"The procedure is safe and opens the way for other clinical trials exploring the potential benefits of this treatment in non-obese patients who have had the disorder less than 10 years," co-study lead author Liem Nguyen, research director at Vinmec, said in a press release.

Researchers added, however, that the benefit was found only in those who were not overweight and have not had the disease for more than a decade -- the benefit was only measured on a short term basis.

The trial focused on 30 adults whose blood glucose levels were continuously tracked over a one-year period.

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At the end of the trial period, those meeting the profile experienced at least short-term relief from Type 2 diabetes without the use of insulin, researchers said.

"Our patients tolerated the procedure well and showed short-term reductions in their blood glucose levels after the treatment," Nguyen said.

"We also found that some of them were able to temporarily reduce the dosage of their diabetes medications," Nguyen said.

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Roughly 420 million people globally have Type 2 diabetes, according to the World Health Organization.

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