Diabetes mellitus patients – new hopes brought by Stem Cell Educator

New hopes are coming from a recently published article in "Stem Cells Translational Medicine" for patients with Diabetes mellitus type 1 and type 2 .

The 4-year follow-up studies demonstrated the long-term safety and clinical efficacy of Stem Cell Educator therapy for the treatment of Diabetes mellitus type 1 and Diabetes mellitus type 2. 

But let's get more deep into understanding this Stem Cell Educator, how is it work and who could benefit of it.

What is Stem Cell Educator?

A closed-loop system that circulates a patient's peripheral blood through a blood cell separator, separates patient's lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system).

Consequently, the collected lymphocytes are transferred into the Stem Cell Educator and briefly co-cultured in vitro, with adherent cord blood-derived multipotent stem cells (CB-SCs).

Then, only the "educated lymphocytes" are returned to the patient's circulation via a dorsal vein of hand.

Stem Cell Educator (SCE) therapy functions as an “artificial thymus”.

The whole procedure is scheduled for 6 ~ 7 hrs.

How could Stem Cell Educator work in Diabetes mellitus?

Umbilical cord blood contains a variety of stem cells and progenitors. Zhao Y. together with his team of researchers have proved since 2006, that umbilical cord blood include a sub-type of stem cell, named cord blood-derived multipotent stem cell (CB-SCs). These cells display unique phenotypes, such as the expression of embryonic stem (ES) cell markers, multipotential of differentiations, very low immunogenicity, and immune modulations in patients.

As a results of these features, Zhao Y. by previous clinical studies for the treatment of diabetes and other autoimmune diseases in China, have demonstrated that briefly treating the patient's lymphocytes with CB-SCs in vitro, could be induced the immune tolerance, restoration of immune balance and homeostasis.

SCE provides long-lasting reversal of autoimmunity that induces the regeneration of pancreatic islet β cells and improvement of metabolic control in individuals with longstanding Diabetes mellitus type 1.

In long-standing diabetes mellitus type 2 patients Zhao Y.  and his team demonstrated in phase 1/phase 2 study  the safety and therapeutic efficacy of SCE.  ( Zhao et al. BMC Medicine 2013, 11:160).

"Stem Cell Educator therapy can control the immune dysfunctions and restore the immune balance through the modulation of monocytes/macrophages and other immune cells, both in peripheral blood and in tissues, leading to a long-lasting reversal of insulin resistance and a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity and metabolic control in long-standing diabetes mellitus type 2 subjects" ( Zhao Y. et al. BMC Medicine 2013, 11:160).

These encouraging results of the first clinical studies assessing the therapeutic use of SCE in patients with Diabetes mellitus type 1 and Diabetes mellitus type 2 were the subject to further investigation in large-scale, multi-center clinical trials.

Taking a peek into intimal mechanism of SCE 

Understanding the underlying mechanism of exerting the therapeutic effect of SCE could open up new avenues to improve the treatment of diabetes patients.

Thus in a recently published article Zhao Y. and his team has concluded:

"Current clinical data demonstrated the modulation of platelets in diabetic patients after receiving SCE therapy. Mechanistic studies in platelets and mitochondria revealed high expressions of immune tolerance-related markers on platelets and released mitochondria." (Zhao Y. et al. STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 2017;00:00–00)

"Pancreatic islet β cells can be reprogrammed to proliferate while maintaining good cell viability and restoring normal b-cell function by taking up platelet-releasing mitochondria. This novel mechanism may contribute to the long lasting clinical efficacy of SCE therapy in diabetic subjects after receiving one treatment with SCE therapy." (Zhao Y. et al. STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 2017;00:00–00)

Who could benefit from the SCE treatment?

According to first WHO Global report on diabetes, published in 2016, the number of adults living with diabetes has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults in 2014, the dramatic rise being especially due to increasing number of type 2 Diabetes mellitus.

Overcoming multiple immune dysfunctions, contributing to the autoimmunity in Diabetes mellitus type 1 and the insulin resistance in Diabetes mellitus type 2, SCE may represent a novel, more efficient therapeutic approach in comparison with standard current treatments.

But, also other diseases (degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) may in the future be proven to benefit from SCE and the innovative approaches using platelets.

"Targeting mitochondria and platelets may revolutionize conventional immune therapies and regenerative medicine with current stem cell approaches, by leading the way toward the development of novel therapy to treat human diseases." (Zhao Y. et al. STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE 2017;00:00–00)

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