World first cord blood infusion to prevent or delay diabetes onset

Four-year-old Isla is the first person in the world  be reinfused with her own umbilical cord blood to determine whether it will delay or prevent the onset of type 1 diabetes. Led by Professor Maria Craig, the CoRD study is being conducted through Kids Research Institute, at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Isla, from Western Australia, is the first child - from more than 100 children currently being screened - to undergo this investigational treatment. This is potentially ground-breaking research in preventing the onset of type 1 diabetes.

Since the study commenced recruitment participants have been monitored to see whether they develop antibodies, which indicate a high likelihood to develop diabetes. Isla showed positive antibodies. Isla and her seven-year old sister, Ruby, both had their cord blood stored with Cell Care cord blood bank at birth.

Cord blood is rich in important and unique immune cells, known as regulatory T-cells, as well as stem cells. For this reason, the cells found in cord blood are considered promising in improving the treatment of many diseases, including type 1 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and neurological disorders.                                                                 

“There is no prevention or cure for type 1 diabetes - a condition that requires life-long management. This is an important step in the advancement of this trial that is looking specifically to prevent or delay the onset type 1 diabetes. We are hopeful this study will provide potential solutions to this chronic condition,” said Professor Craig. 

“Ongoing follow-up with Isla will now occur every 3-6 months for the next three years to monitor her response to the cord blood reinfusion,” added Professor Craig.

Currently Australia has one of the highest rates of type 1 diabetes in the world with approximately 130,000 people living with the condition i and 2,000 new cases diagnosed each year.  The onset of type 1 diabetes is typically at an early age, thus is one of the most common chronic diseases amongst children.  A family history of type 1 diabetes is associated with an increased risk of developing the disease compared with the general population. ii