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image of Type 1 diabetes sufferer Chloe and here two sons

Chloe Docking developed Type 1 diabetes at the age of just eight and has endured a lifetime of insulin injections. Now aged 30, she wants to protect her young sons – Jaxon, 4, and Izzak, 2 – from the same fate.

“Because I have it, there’s a chance they could end up with Type 1 diabetes as well,” Mrs Docking said. So she has registered them in a world-first Australian study that is hoping to prevent Type 1 diabetes in children.

Paediatric endocrinologist at The Children’s Hospital Westmead in Sydney, Professor Maria Craig, said the study was looking at reinfusing a child’s stored cord blood into their system at the first sign of T1D in the hope it would reset the recipient’s immune system. Cord blood is the blood that remains in the placenta and in the attached umbilical cord after childbirth. The study – named CoRD (Cord blood Reinfusion in Diabetes) – is recruiting participants aged between one and 14 whose relatives have T1D and who have stored cord blood.

They are also recruiting families who are expecting a baby and planning cord blood storage. Prof Craig said with T1D, there was a problem with the body’s Regulatory T-cells. “If you don’t have enough of these cells, you’re more likely to develop auto-immune diseases,” she said. “If there was a way that you could give more Regulatory T-cells then you might, theoretically, halt that process and prevent Type 1 Diabetes and that’s what we’re doing because cord blood contains a great number of these cells.”

Mrs Docking, of Loxton, said she made the decision to store her children’s cord blood to prevent a lifetime of injections or being on an insulin pump for her boys. Cord blood and tissue banking has cost the family thousands of dollars – about $4000 upfront for Jaxon and $200 a month for Izzak – but they feel the investment is worthwhile. “What if we hadn’t stored their cord blood cells and tissues and then they did get diabetes and the research they’d been doing into it all finally did (work out)?

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