Type 2 diabetes patients who receive self-donated (autologous) bone marrow stem cells require less insulin, a new study revealed.

The research, published in Cell Transplantation, was carried out in India and looked at the safety and efficacy of autologous transplanted bone marrow stem cells in patients with type 2 diabetes (TD2M).

Study corresponding author Anil Bhansali, PhD, professor and head of the Endocrinology Department at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education in Chandrigarh, India, said:

“There is growing interest in the scientific community for cellular therapies that use bone marrow-derived cells for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications. But the potential of stem cell therapy for this disease is yet to be fully explored.”

Although there is an increasing interest in using stem cell transplantation to treat people with this condition, there has been little research observing the benefit of bone marrow-derived stem cells.

“By experimenting with bone marrow-derived stem cells, the researchers sought to exploit the rich source of stem cells in bone marrow,” the researchers said.

The experts wanted to examine the efficacy and safety of autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell transplantation in patients with T2DM and who also had good glycemic control.

Good glycemic control appeared as a critical factor in the transplantation group and in the non-transplanted control group.

Cell transplantation had a considerable influence on the patients in this report as those administered cells showed a significant decrease in insulin requirement.

A notably smaller decrease in the need for insulin was also observed in the control group.

However, a “repeated emphasis on life style modification” was thought to be playing a factor in this effect.

The study included a homogenous patient population with T2DM who displayed good glycemic control and the existence of a comparable control group that did not receive cell transplants, Dr. Bhansali pointed out.

The researchers said:

“The efficacy and safety of stem cell therapy needs to be established in a greater number of patients and with a longer duration follow-up. The data available so far from animal and human studies is encouraging, however, it has enormous limitations.”

The experts suggested finding out which type of stem cells (bone marrow, hematopoietic, or placenta-derived) might be best for the treatment of T2DM.

Additionally, the authors pointed out that post-transplantation patients who required careful observation for the development of neoplasia as stem cells – whether multipotent or pluripotent – have the possibility for malignant transformation.

“Autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell therapy in patients with T2DM results in significant decrease in insulin dose requirement,” the authors concluded.

A recent study showed that going for short walks after meals may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in older people by helping to reduce the risky spikes in blood sugar that occur after filling the stomach with food.

Written by Sarah Glynn