Recently (April 06, 2015), I wrote in my blog that I was keeping an eye on a presentation that Dr. Yong Zhao was about to give (April 14, 2015) on the clinical data generated from the Spanish cohort (Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA), Oviedo, Spain). The presentation, titled “Correct the autoimmune memory by Stem Cell Educator therapy in Caucasian type 1 diabetic subjects: phase I/II clinical trial” was given at the Immunology of Diabetes Society's 14th International Congress in Munich, Germany. I also said let’s keep an eye on this speech, because if (and this is a big IF) the technology works, this could be an important advancement towards a cure for type 1 diabetes. As of today (03 May, 2015), I have seen neither scientific reports nor headlines with regard to the presentation of Dr. Zhao in spite of my daily searches. However, the newspaper Asturias reports on 06 March, 2015 (before D. Zhao’s presentation) (http://www.europapress.es/asturias/noticia-restos-cordon-umbilical-reeducan-celulas-impiden-produccion-insulina-diabeticos-20150306135056.html) that Drs Jesús Otero and Elías Delgado who led the Spanish trials at HUCA said that advancements were obtained in treating the Disease especially in the very young subjects whose cells still produce insulin. Specifically, improvements were observed in immune functions, in the obtainment of less fluctuations in blood sugars, and in a slight increase in the production of insulin. However, Dr. Otero pointed out that the results cannot be considered a validation of the technology with regard to a cure given that the beta cells were not able to regenarate and that the patients needed to continue to inject insulin. Notwithstanding, the two scientists expressed their desire to continue their clinical trials focusing on patients that are young.
The newspaper article emphasizes that the results obtained with the Asturian (Asturias is an autonomous community in north-west Spain where the clinical trials were performed) patients greatly differ from the results obtained by Dr. Zhao in rats and Asian patients with type 1 diabetes where the Stem Cell Educator technology had resulted in the reversal of autoimmunity of the lymphocytes and in the generation of endogenous insulin (endogenous means produced by the body).
Delgado says that this study (Spanish study) opens new questions about the differences between the pancreas of the Caucasian and the Asiatic populations.
Of course, I am disappointed by the results; moreover, it is also difficult for me to have a clear idea of what constitutes an advancement in the treatment of the very young patients (probably still in the honeymoon period) without having seen the results. Therefore, before expressing an opinion, I would like to see the results of the Spanish study published in a peer-reviewed journal; hopefully, that will come soon.