Could A Girl’s Baby Sister Provide A Cure?

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I just read a fascinating article from the News-Record about ongoing research involving collecting amniotic fluid of diabetics’ siblings, in hopes that the fluid’s stem cells might eventually help reverse diabetes. The article focuses on a family whose daughter, Chandler, was diagnosed with diabetes just as her mom found out she was pregnant again. To quote:

About a month [after the diagnosis], a friend told Ashley Simpson she’d heard Dr. Anthony Atala, the director of the institute, speak about its work, particularly in diabetes research using stem cells taken from amniotic fluid.

She told her husband, who looked Atala up online. Then he e-mailed Atala. I have a daughter newly diagnosed with diabetes, and my wife is pregnant, Sam Simpson wrote. Is there anything we can do?

The Simpsons figured he’d be too busy to get back to them. But “he called me back” – Sam Simpson snaps a finger – “immediately.”

Atala put the Simpsons in touch with an organization that collects blood from the umbilical cords of newborn babies. That blood contains stem cells that have been used for years to treat serious disorders in the child they came from or their close relatives.

The organization normally didn’t store amniotic fluid but agreed to store Ashley Simpson’s. Atala and a colleague, Dr. Shay Soker, who is leading the institute’s diabetes research, told the Simpsons its stem cells were Chandler’s best hope for a cure.

When baby Isabelle was born in late 2006, the Simpsons also collected and banked her umbilical cord and placenta, just in case.

And now they wait.

Fascinating. Too bad I’m an only child.

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