FRIDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy helped prevent or slow the progression of type 1 diabetes in mice, according to new research.
It is too early to say if the results might apply to humans, however.
In mice, the treatment caused changes in the immune system's response to newly developing diabetes, and reduced the risk of diabetes between 20 and 40 percent. In the mice that still developed diabetes, the hyperbaric therapy delayed disease progression, the investigators found.
"Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a relatively non-harmful way of enhancing oxygen delivery to the tissues," said the study's senior author, Dr. Antonello Pileggi, director of the preclinical cell processing and translational models program at the Diabetes Research Institute of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"We were able to suppress the transfer of the disease (in mice) before the onset of the disease. After diabetes had occurred, the efficacy [of hyperbaric therapy] was much less," said Pileggi. He said that combining hyperbaric therapy with medications might enhance the effectiveness of both treatments.
Results of this study, released online May 7, will be published in the July print issue of Diabetes.
In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the pancreas called beta cells. Beta cells produce the hormone insulin that allows your body to metabolize carbohydrates from food, providing fuel for energy. People with type 1 diabetes must replace the lost insulin through multiple daily injections or a pump.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy -- commonly used to treat scuba divers who develop "the bends" from rising to the surface too quickly -- is delivered in a special pressurized chamber. The pressure inside the chamber is about two and half times greater than the normal pressure in the atmospher
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