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Stem cell infusion and hyperbaric oxygen treatment improve islet function in diabetes

A study to determine if patients with type 2 diabetes can benefit from a combination of autologous (patient self-donated) stem cell infusions (ASC) and hyperbaric (above the normal air pressure of ) oxygen treatment (HBO) before and after ASC has found "significant benefits" in terms of "improvements in glycemic control" along with "reduced insulin requirements."

The combination therapy could decrease type 2 diabetes morbidity and mortality, said the authors, who published their study results in the latest issue of Cell Transplantation (Vol. 17 No.12).

"Autologous stem cell therapies are an emerging set of therapies with promising results and low side effects profiles," said corresponding co-author Esteban Estrada, MD, of Stem Cell Argentina. "In addition, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, used primarily in the treatment of carbon monoxide poisoning, air embolism suffered by divers, and as an enhancement to wound healing, has been shown to increase stem cell mobilization and the release of endothelial progenitor cells via a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism."

The clinical trial evaluated the safety of ASC-HBO combination treatment in 25 patients with type 2 diabetes.

According to the researchers, it is well known that with type 2 diabetes, there is an ongoing inflammation of the pancreas. Their hypothesis suggested that mobilizing stem cells would cause the growth of blood vessels (angiogenesis) and release factors that would result in the local differentiation of progenitor cells with a resulting anti-inflammatory effect. Diabetes, they added, has been shown to impair progenitor cell mobilization, a problem that local stem cell infusion could remedy.

Once more, the effect of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy, they hypothesized, would be to increase stem cell mobilization in such a way as "to target more than one crucial reparative step" to counteract the chronic injury that attack the endothelial progenitor cells and the islet cells.

"Overall, our results show that a close follow-up with intensive diabetic management alone could not be the only cause of the positive, progressive and consistent outcomes we obtained in this trial over one year of follow-up," said Dr. Estrada.

"A decade ago, research had explored stem cell transplantation and hyperbaric oxygen therapy as stand alone treatments. This study highlights the potential benefits of using an unusual combination therapy to treat diabetes" said Dr. Cesar V Borlongan, Associate Editor of Cell Transplantation and Professor at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

Camillo Ricordi | EurekAlert!
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