World's first trial to prevent diabetes with cord blood
Researchers from Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney today announced a ground-breaking study that will try to prevent Type 1 Diabetes in high-risk children by giving them a reinfusion of their own umbilical cord blood. The study, dubbed CoRD for "Cord Reinfusion in Diabetes", will run through-out Australia, which has one of the world's highest rates of diabetes in children. The study is funded by a grant from the family cord blood bank Cell Care Australia.
The scientific background to the study relies on the fact that the onset of Type 1 Diabetes in children is an auto-immune reaction. The study will recruit hundreds of children who have banked their cord blood and have a relative with Type 1 Diabetes. These candidates can be screened for subtle changes in immune regulatory cells which signal that their bodies are beginning to attack the pancreatic islet cells that make insulin. The hope is that a reinfusion of their cord blood stem cells will reset these children's immune systems before the auto-immune damage leads to a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. Previous clinical trials in both animals and humans have demonstrated that cord blood stem cells do have the ability to modulate the immune system, and in particular to partially reverse diabetic changes.