This is a very small study from Weifang China involving people suffering from Type 2 diabetes (T2D-insulin dependent). This is the most common type of diabetes in dogs and cats and is treatable, but often a debilitating condition for our pets and burdensome for our pet parents. The best course of treatment involves multiple visits and blood sugar testing in order to establish the best insulin dosage and injection timing. Quite frankly, who wants to give their pet twice daily injections?

orange catThere are a number of things that make this study very interesting. The first is that six men suffering from T2D received two infusions of stem cells, two weeks apart that were harvested from umbilical cord tissue not their own. These stem cells were harvested from the umbilical cords of other patients. (male umbilical cords). This type of stem cell transplantation is called allogeneic. Most human studies at this time focus on autologous transplantation, in which stem cells are harvested from a patient and put back into that same patient. The bulk of current research in pets is focused on allogeneic and so this ground-breaking study in humans lends much more relevance to my patients.

Though a small study of only six, the results were incredible… three of the six were able to discontinue insulin therapy and the other three were able to decrease their dose of insulin. No patient experienced any side effects. This is amazing.

One conclusion may be that the stem cell action in diabetic patients may function to decrease the “hobbling” effects of the immune system, which is often to blame for T2D. More research needs to be completed, but this is a very promising treatment for people and pets.

Reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471780/