The cells of human beings obtain energy from sugar (glucose) which is produced from food or stored in the liver. Molecules of glucose are delivered to cells through the bloodstream. Diabetes is a common chronic disease that develops when cells fail to convert this glucose into energy. Thus, in diabetes, the glucose level in the blood increases – this is called hyperglycemia, which leads to negative consequences for the major systems of the body – heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes, and kidneys. Type 2 diabetes also increases the overall likelihood of dying prematurely.
Normally, glucose blood levels are regulated by insulin, a hormone secreted by pancreatic beta cells. Type 2 diabetes develops when the pancreas cannot provide enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Type 1 diabetes is a much less common disease; it develops when the immune system cells destroy the pancreas’ beta cells, so insulin secretion significantly decreases.
Type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed after age 45, however, it is being increasingly diagnosed in children and younger adults. Excessive weight and physical inactivity are the main risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
The disease begins gradually, and in the early stages, a patient may feel fine. Elevated blood glucose, a key sign, is typically a coincidental finding when the patient is examined for something else.
Below are major signs and symptoms that should draw your attention as possible signals of diabetes:
- enhanced thirst and frequent urination;
- increased hunger;
- unintentional weight loss;
- a feeling of tiredness;
- blurred vision;
- slow-healing wounds;
- frequent infections;
- areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck.
How stem cell therapy can help treat patients with type 2 diabetes
Scientists have not yet found a cure for type 2 diabetes. Most research efforts are currently focused on improving glucose level control. It is recommended that those suffering from type 2 diabetes maintain a healthy diet and body weight, and exercise regularly to manage the disease. In cases where diet and exercise aren’t enough to adequately control blood glucose levels, the patient may also need diabetes medications or insulin therapy.
Researchers have been developing and adopting different approaches to the treatment between stem cells and diabetes since the early 1990s. Recent studies on stem cell diabetes treatment have demonstrated the promising results of using bone marrow mononuclear cells (MNC) and multipotent mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), including preserving the function of beta-cells, significant decreases in insulin dosage, and improved regeneration in patients with diabetic foot ulcers.
The results of stem cell therapy for diabetes have been evaluated by both objective and subjective measures. Most of the patients treated with MSC injections show stable improvement in the following signs and symptoms of the disease:
- disappearance/reduction of clinical symptoms (normal blood glucose, control of appetite and weight, etc.);
- insulin dose reduction or oral hypoglycemic drug dose reduction;
- a decrease in fasting blood glucose;
- decreased С-peptide levels;
- a lower concentration of glycated hemoglobin;
- improvement in the quality of life (assessed using a specialized questionnaire SF-36).
In cases of diabetic ulcer treatment with injections of stem cells, the following results may be achieved:
- disappearance/reduction of clinical symptoms (normal blood glucose, control of appetite and weight, etc.);
- reduction of the ulcer size (in both radius and depth, if applicable);
- complete healing of the ulcer;
- increased transcutaneous oxygen tension in the ulcer;
- increased ankle-brachial index in the ulcer;
improvement in the quality of life (assessed using a specialized questionnaire SF-36).
Results of Swiss Medica patients
This is the story of a Swiss Media patient from Indonesia. Wahyudin visited the Swiss Medica clinic in Moscow for the first time in December 2017 to receive stem cell treatment for diabetes.
Before the treatment, his glucose level was above 200-250 mg/dL (the normal range is 79 to 110 mg/dL). The treatment he received involved both IMR therapy and stem cell therapy.
The first visit to Swiss Medica resulted in changes to his lifestyle and diet – he was able to better control his appetite and ended up losing 4.5 kilograms. Blood sugar monitoring showed a stable level at about 120-140 mg/dL, and sometimes even below 100 mg/dL. Even when Wahyudin ate some unhealthy food, his glucose levels only increased to just above 140 mg/dL, which is considered under control.
After 6 months, Wahyudin went to Moscow again to receive the second treatment course. At the time of this visit, the procedure involved stem cell treatment for diabetes with the use of autologous adipose tissue MSCs and autologous bone marrow mesenchymal stromal fraction cells.
As a result, his weight dropped by another 2 kilograms, his glucose levels decreased to 100-120 mg/dL, his diet became more stable, and he is now able to control his appetite more effectively. The unexpected benefit of using stem cell for diabetes type 2 was an improvement in his vision, starting from the first treatment course – thanks to the stem cell treatment, he became able to drive a car during the daytime and work on a computer without glasses.
Type 2 diabetes: how patients can benefit from stem cell transplants
Stem cell treatment for diabetes can provide a lot of benefits for patients when it comes to the symptoms and management of their condition. These include the following:
- Stabilized blood glucose levels;
- Improvement in the healing of wounds and ulcers;
- Reduction in symptoms like thirst, hunger, and frequent urination;
- Increased energy levels;
- Reduced need for high drug dosages.
Multipotent mesenchymal stem cells can reduce hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes primarily by stimulating the regeneration of beta cells through several mechanisms:
- The activation of pancreas progenitor cell differentiation and an increase in the number of beta cell precursors.
- The pro-angiogenic activity of MSCs leads to increased vascularization of the pancreatic islets (regions of the pancreas that contain endocrine cells – which are hormone-producing cells) and general improvement of its endocrine function.
- And the immunomodulatory effect plays a crucial role in the presence of an autoimmune component in the development and persistence of diabetes and is an important part of the complex effects of MSCs.
When curing diabetic ulcers, the main goal is to restore adequate blood circulation in the area of the ulceration and reduce ischemia. The MSCs introduced in stem cell treatment for diabetes activate resident cells and attract circulating progenitor cells. They also induce new vascular growth from existing capillary networks. As a result, the nutrient and oxygen supply is restored, which leads to the stimulation of ulcer epithelization.
The ability of MSCs to stimulate the development of capillary networks and the subsequent increase in blood flow helps to improve one of the most serious complications of type 2 diabetes: generalized microvascular dysfunction. This demonstrates the synergy between stem cells and diabetes when managing this disease.
The hypoglycemic effect of MSCs contributes to the healing of ulcerative skin lesions in patients with diabetes. Local injections of these cells directly around the wound further improve the efficiency of the cell product, helping to accelerate the healing of lesions.
What does the treatment procedure involve?
The stem cell therapy type 2 diabetes procedure occurs in the following stages which typically take several weeks:
- Collection of cell product from the source of stem cells.
- Cell processing and cultivation to obtain the required number of MSCs (this is the most time-consuming step which lasts about 4 weeks).
- The introduction of the cell-based product into the patient’s body.
When donor cells are used in stem cell treatment for diabetes, the second step is excluded. Cell material may be prepared in advance from frozen (cryopreserved) and MSCs can be ready within 24 hours.
Source of stem cells used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes
The multipotent MSCs used in stem cell treatment for diabetes can be obtained both from the patient’s own tissues (bone marrow, adipose tissue, peripheral blood, or oral mucosa) or from donor sources (placenta, umbilical cord, etc). You can learn more about the types and sources.
Prior to the stem cell therapy type 2 diabetes procedure, a doctor from Swiss Medica will examine the patient and determine their current state of health and individual characteristics, collecting all the available data from their medical history to determine the feasibility and possibility of conducting stem cell treatment for diabetes using MSCs. Laboratory and/or instrumental tests are performed so that the specialist can determine the most suitable source of autologous stem cells (bone marrow, adipose [fat] tissue, or gingival tissue).
In the operating room, the doctor prepares the patient’s skin by cleaning it with an antiseptic and then administering local or general anesthesia. Following this, the sampling of biological material is performed.
Bone marrow samples are usually collected from the top ridge of the back of a hipbone or sometimes from the front of the hip. Adipose tissue is harvested in the area of the anterior abdominal wall, side surfaces of the waist, loins, buttocks, and/or the outer side of the hips. Gingival tissue stem cell samples are obtained by the surgeon cutting 3-4 mm3 of the gum.
The duration of harvesting stem cell for diabetes type 2 therapy depends on where in the body the stem cells are sourced from.
The bone marrow collection takes about an hour on average. Harvesting of adipose-derived SVF cells takes about 30 minutes and varies depending upon the amount of tissue aspirated from the patient. Collecting cells from gingival tissue is also a relatively brief procedure.
The patient is monitored after the collection of MSCs to ensure their safety.
Patient’s comfort during the procedures
Medical procedures are carried out in a calm and comfortable environment in compliance with the established norms and conditions.
If the patient’s own cells are collected, the harvesting of the tissue is performed in the operating room. At this stage, the patient may feel a slight pain, similar to the usual sensation from an injection when the doctor introduces an anesthetic. After the procedure, there may be minor and short-term discomfort associated with the invasiveness of the procedure (breach of tissue integrity).
When using a patient’s own cells or donated cells (which do not require taking your own biomaterial), introducing them in this stem cells diabetes procedure is no different from the introduction of other medications.
This can be a standardized systemic injection (via an IV drip) when the patient is in a relaxed state for 1-2 hours. Local administration is also possible in the case of treatment of trophic ulcers, bedsores, diabetic foot to improve or close wounds, or a combination of both methods.
Recovery after treatment
Patients may feel some pain in the place where stem cells were collected. To clarify the effectiveness of MSC transplantation and the decision to reintroduce the cell product, patients undergo a routine examination after 3 and 6 months after the stem cell treatment for diabetes. Mandatory examinations include a physical examination, a collection of medical history, and a panel of laboratory and instrumental tests, which are performed to assess the results of the stem cell treatment for diabetes.
If you have any questions about the treatment procedures or stem cells and diabetes, please contact our medical advisor. You can discuss your individual case with a specialist at the Swiss Medica clinic.
Safety of stem cell therapy for type 2 diabetes
The key safety issue with stem cell therapy is a possible malignant transformation (i.e. risk of cancer). Clinical trial results confirmed that there is no scientific evidence that MSCs may potentially spontaneously transform when proper quality control of cell cultivation and injection is ensured. Local injections of stem cells have also exhibited a very safe profile. The procedures are usually well-tolerated in the majority of patients. However, individual intolerance, though rare, cannot be excluded. Swiss Medica specialists will monitor your condition to assure a safe and beneficial result. They will also take appropriate measures to mitigate any possible risks during stem cell treatment for diabetes.
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Stem cell treatment for diabetes taps into the body’s natural abilities by using stem cells to improve the insulin-producing function of the pancreas, heal diabetic ulcers, and reduce the intensity of many other symptoms that present with this condition.
Clinical studies have proven stem cell treatment for diabetes to be effective and Swiss Medica clinic follows the best practices and highest safety standards from harvesting the stem cells to administering them, to ensure that patients get the best possible experience. You can contact us to learn the details for your case of the disease.
Get a free online consultation with a medical expert of the clinic to discuss the expected results for your case of the disease, the procedure, the cost, and the duration of the treatment.
Medical Advisor, Swiss Medica doctor
List of References
Li LHH et al. Infusion with human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells improves β-cell function in patients and non-obese mice with severe diabetes. Sci Rep. 2016;6:37894.
Wang Y et al. Plasticity of mesenchymal stem cells in immunomodulation: pathological and therapeutic implications. Nat Immunol. 2014;15 (11):1009-16.
Cao Y et al. Mesenchymal stem cells improve healing of diabetic foot ulcer. J Diabetes Res. 2017;2017:9328347.
Bhansali A et al. Efficacy and safety of autologous bone marrow-derived stem cell transplantation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a randomized placebo-controlled study. Cell Transplant. 2014;23(9):1075-85.
Liu X et al. A preliminary evaluation of efficacy and safety of Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cell transplantation in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2014;5(2):57.