Type I diabetes: Is there any option to overcome insulin dependence?
Eight year old Sara(name changed) used to take insulin shots daily and was constantly uncomfortable as she would experience blood glucose fluctuation regularly. Her doctor had also advised to cut down on most of her favorite foods, which was a bigger challenge to her parents.
Similarly, seventeen year old Tina(name changed) had complains of general weakness, occasional abdominal pain and tingling sensation in toes. When diagnosed withdiabetes, she was advised lifelong insulin therapy. This came as a shock to the family, as Tina was only 12 years old at the time of diagnosis and no one in their family reported a history of diabetes.
Sara, Tina and many more are examples of Type I or Insulin-dependent diabetes wherein the body does not produce adequate insulin in order to control blood glucose levels. There is absolute insulin deficiency due to destruction of the beta islet cells in the pancreas. Exogenous insulin injection is the only conventional therapeutic modality to manage fluctuating blood glucose levels.
Type 1 diabetes is becoming one of the most common illnesses in younger individuals. India is home to close to 97,000 children with type 1 diabetes. Although this typeconstitutes only 5-10% of the total population, it has serious short and long term consequences. While a definitive causative agent has not yet been described, genetic and environmental factors as well as disorder of immune mechanism are thought to be the cause of type 1 diabetes.
A major disadvantage of conditions that manifest at an early age is the toll that is taken on the emotional well being of the affected individual in addition to the impact on activities of daily living. Medications and insulin are to be continued life-long as these agents do not cure the condition, which also poses financial burden to families.
Patients and their families are generally unaware of recent forms of therapy for diabetes. One such advanced therapeutic modality is Regenerative Medicine and Cell Based Therapy that harness the innate healing potential of the body in management of various health conditions.
Dr. Pradeep Mahajan, Adigos Stem Cells explains, “‘You carry your own repairing kits in your body’. He believes in the power of cellular therapy to address the root cause of many conditions rather than palliative management of symptoms. In Type I diabetes, the cells that produce insulin are destroyed. Cells in our body have the capability to renew themselves, as well as differentiate into other types of cells”. He adds, “Type I diabetes is a disease of the immune system. Cell based therapy can regulate dysfunction of the immune system. Cells are also capable of reducing inflammation in the body. All these properties benefit patients with diabetes by ensuring regeneration of pancreatic function and alleviation of co-existing pathologies”. Cell-based approach to insulin replacement has been shown to ultimately improve glucose control in patients with Type I diabetes and aids in restoring immune homeostasis/balance in the body.
“Through our personalized treatment protocol, patients experience benefits of cell based therapy within 1-2 sessions. Reduction in blood glucose levels are noticed along with improvement in general health of patients. However, changes in the patients’ ongoing insulin doses/oral hypoglycemic drugs are made only after a steady state of blood glucose is achieved. Accordingly, dosage is adjusted and ultimately discontinuation of medications/insulin may be advised”, says Dr. Mahajan.
Our patient Tina is now free of insulin and her blood glucose levels are under control for over a year. She does not experience any discomfort as she used to prior to treatment. Tina has been able to resume her daily activities with renewed vigor and confidence. On the other hand, Sara who has undergone one session of cell based therapy has already started experiencing the benefits. Her insulin requirement has reduced to occassional 1-2 units (as per requirement) and she experiences lesser fluctuation in blood glucose levels. “Sara is elated that she does not have to take injections everyday”, says her mother.
Cell based therapy addresses the root cause of diabetes, ie: beta-cell destruction and insulin resistance. Therefore, results achieved, although gradual are permanent. The number of sessions of therapy required differs with each individual, based on age, diabetic status and presence of co-morbid conditions as well as lifestyle. The therapy is safe and effective as cells are obtained from the patient’s own body. Therefore, it is necessary to create awareness regarding this form of therapy so that more patients from every strata of the society can be benefitted.
Inputs by Dr. Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative medicine researcher,Adigos Stem Cells