NHS to produce unique stem cells that could revolutionize treatment for diabetic kidney disease

News Medical

NHS Blood and Transplant will start producing stem cells for groundbreaking treatment aimed at combating one of the most serious health problems facing the NHS, diabetic kidney disease.

Maria Houlton and Danielle Withey checking frozen stem cell samples at NHSBT Liverpool

The disease is a major cause of sickness and death in the EU. There are 2.7 million people diagnosed with diabetes in England, a number that is increasing by about 5% per year.

NHS Blood and Transplant will produce a special type of stem cell, known as stromal stem cells, for administration to diabetic patients in England and Northern Ireland who are taking part in an international clinical trial. NHS Blood and Transplant will use a bioreactor at its Liverpool site to expand samples of around 20m stromal cells up to around 800m cells, ready for use in patients.

Stromal stem cells can differentiate into a variety of connective cell types – for example bone cells, cartilage cells, and fat cells. However, they also have the ability to help regulate the body’s immune responses.

Specific doses of stromal cells will be injected into the bloodstream of diabetic patients to try and slow down or stop the progression of diabetic kidney disease by better regulating the body’s response. Diabetic patients have high levels of blood sugar, which can lead to a series of reactions that cause the body to reduce blood supply to the kidney, killing off kidney tissue. Continue reading