World's first trial to prevent diabetes with cord blood


Researchers from Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, Australia, have launched 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 lead investigator Dr. Maria Craig explains the concepts behind the trial in our January Newsletter.

The study is dubbed CoRD for "Cord Reinfusion in Diabetes". It 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. As part of their outreach to families that may be eligible, the hospital has provided statements to announce the study and describe the study rationale.

It is known that the onset of Type 1 Diabetes in children is an auto-immune reaction. The CoRD study will recruit hundreds of children who have banked their cord blood and have a relative with Type 1 Diabetes. These candidates will 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 study designers hope that, if children whose bodies are starting to attack their pancreas are reinfused with their own cord blood stem cells, the stem cells will 'reset' their immune systems before the damage goes far enough to qualify for 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.

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