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Single life-long cure for diabetes, cancer found

By Chukwuma Muanya, Assistant Editor
12 August 2016   |   1:43 am
The treatment of diseases from diabetes to multiple sclerosis could be revolutionised by a breakthrough in bone marrow transplants.

cure-for-diabetes

The treatment of diseases from diabetes to multiple sclerosis could be revolutionised by a breakthrough in bone marrow transplants.
Researchers have made the life-saving infusions so safe that they say they could be used to treat numerous conditions.
Excitingly, a single treatment could provide a life-long cure.

The scientists said their technique could be the ‘holy grail’ of transplantation, ushering in ‘a whole new era in disease treatment’.
Patients critically ill with leukaemia and other blood cancers are given radiotherapy or chemotherapy to wipe out their own diseased cells, before being given an infusion of healthy marrow.

But while they can be hugely successful, the transplants come with a host of side-effects and up to 20 per cent of patients die from complications.
As a result, bone marrow transplants are reserved for the most seriously ill.
Many of the problems are caused by the chemotherapy or radiotherapy that is used to wipe out the patient’s own bone marrow ahead of the transplant.
The Stanford University researchers have found a much safer way of eliminating the cells.
They have used two different antibodies to trick the body into attacking the diseased marrow and destroying it.

In experiments in mice, more than 99 per cent of the bone marrow cells were eliminated, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.
The team then found a way of purifying the donated bone marrow, to make the transplant even safer.
They said: “If it works in humans like it did in mice, we would expect the risk of death would drop form 20 per cent to effectively zero.”
Study co-author Irving Weissmann said: “There is almost no category of disease or organ transplant that is not impacted by this research.
“If and when this is accomplished, it will be a whole new era in disease treatment and regenerative medicine.”

The bone marrow is the body’s blood cell ‘factory’ so transplants are usually used to treat blood cancers.
However, the marrow also makes most of the cells in the body’s immune system.
This means that any disease caused by a rogue immune response could potentially be cured by a one-off transplant.
Childhood diabetes, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases could be the treatment’s grasp.
The technology could also be exploited to make heart, lung and other organ transplants safer.
Co-researcher Judith Shizuru, a lab technician turned doctor, said human trials could start in as little as three years.

Shizuru recently described the work as ‘they most exciting thing I have done in my whole life.’
She added: “One important reason why I became a bone marrow transplanter was so that I could help cure autoimmune disease.
“If we can make bone marrow transplants safer, that offers a potential way to cure autoimmune disease, including diabetes.”
There is almost no category of disease or organ transplant that is not impacted by this research.
*Adapted from DailyMailUK Online

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