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New research may lead to insulin free diabeti -

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PETER CAVE: Doctors in America and Brazil have published new research which they say shows adult
that stem cells could hold the key to getting type 1 or juvenile diabetics off insulin and leading
a normal life.

The research involved injecting patients with their own adult stem cells back into their

One young patient has been insulin free for more than four years.

The results have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and they're
being cautiously hailed by some doctors here as a breakthrough.

Di Bain reports.

DI BAIN: In Australia there are almost 9,000 diabetics under 18 who rely on insulin to get them
through the day, and US based stem cell specialist Richard Burt says the results of his research
are promising.

RICHARD BURT: After this treatment patients were completely drug free with normal blood sugar, so
they were off insulin and off everything else. And nothing else has done that.

DI BAIN: The Ministry of Health in Brazil and a biotechnology company called Genzyme helped fund
the study which started with 15 young diabetics in Brazil.

The autoimmune disease occurs mostly in people under 30 when the pancreas no longer makes insulin.

Dr Burt says volunteers were all newly diagnosed with type 1 or juvenile diabetes. Their stem cells
were frozen.

The patient was then given a large dose of drugs to knock down their immune systems.

The stem cells were then thawed and re-injected back into their bloodstream over about 15 minutes.

RICHARD BURT: The patients remain in the hospital about 10 days; there for their white counts to
recover, their immune system to recover then they're discharged.

DI BAIN: So would you describe the results as a breakthrough?

RICHARD BURT: I think it's always better to be more humble. You know, it's easier to write a
scientific paper for me than talk to the lay-press because there's a lot of details that are in the
scientific paper that, for a layperson, may seem boring or difficult to understand, but you know,
the devil's always in the details.

DI BAIN: Is stem cell therapy a risky business?

RICHARD BURT: There is a risk of infection that during that period is about eight days long and
during that involves... you know, there is a risk that an infection could get out of control and
possibly take the person's life. I think that risk is very, very low.

DI BAIN: What is the next step? Do you need to do more studies to determine if it could become a
standard treatment?

RICHARD BURT: Well the next step is a randomised trial, which again is now approved, it's written,
it's approved by our IRB - Institutional Review Board is what that stands for - and it is currently
at the FDA - Food and Drug Administration - in Washington for final approval.

PETER CAVE: Dr Richard Burt, the co-author of the study into juvenile diabetes, speaking to Di