Adult stem cells from human bone marrow may help treat type 2 diabetes.

That’s the early finding from lab tests on diabetic mice. Tests on people haven’t been done.

The mouse studies are summed up in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers included biochemistry professor Darwin Prockop, MD, PhD, who directs Tulane University’s Center for Gene Therapy.

The researchers studied male mice with high blood sugar like that in type 2 diabetes.

Half the mice received two injections of adult stem cells taken from human bone marrow. With their defective immune systems, the mice didn’t reject the human cells.

For comparison, the other mice didn’t get any injections.

Over the next month or so, mice treated with stem cells made more insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar.

Stem cells turned up in the mice’s pancreas, which makes insulin.

The stem-cell treated mice also had less kidney damage than mice in the comparison group, the study shows.

Diabetes can cause kidney damage. Stem cells showed up in the mice’s kidneys as well; the injected cells may have helped repair damage, the researchers say.

It’s possible, but not yet certain, that stem cell shots could boost insulin production and help fix damaged tissue in people with diabetes, according to Prockop’s team.

Experts: U.S. Left Out of Stem Cell Advances

By Miranda Hitti, reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

SOURCES: Lee, R. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nov. 14, 2006; vol 103: pp 17438-17443. News release, Tulane University. News release, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.