Isla Robinson: Girl makes history by being injected with blood from umbilical cord in bid to prevent diabetes
Isla Robinson’s umbilical cord blood was stored at birth and is now being used in a pioneering study with researchers hoping that it could lead to a major breakthrough in the treatment of diabetes.
Speaking to smh.com, Isla’s mum Rachel Weldon said: “It just seemed like a good insurance policy I suppose. Now being involved in this trial we just feel so grateful.”
Isla’s cord blood was stored in temperatures below -160C, the blood – which is packed with T-cells – was then defrosted before being put back into her body.
Isla made history by becoming the first person to be injected with her own cord blood in an effort to prevent type 1 diabetes, the four-year-old girl was given the pioneering treatment in Australia. Researchers hope the blood – which is rich in immune cells – will help boost her immune system and prevent the disease developing in the future.
Diabetes occurs when the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells.
Isla has a very high risk of developing diabetes and is undergoing regular tests. Isla’s older sister, 6 year-old Ruby, has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and Isla’s half-brother has also been diagnosed with the condition.
Researchers behind the pioneering work hope that even if the treatment does not stop the Isla from getting diabetes, it could delay the age at which she is diagnosed with the condition.
The leader of the study Maria Craig said: “I’m hoping we can completely switch off that autoimmune process and she will never get it.”
Isla is the first of about 20 children who will receive the transfusion.
Medics say there is increasing evidence that T-cells from umbilical cord blood can help with diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.