Encouraging news comes from Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers there say a cure for Type I diabetes may be in sight after they not only halted the disease in mice, but reversed it.
This is awesome: Over 130 million people around the world suffer from what is known as “juvenile diabetes.” This variation of the as-yet-incurable disease afflicts people whose bodies do not produce insulin (the necessary hormone that allows the body to obtain energy from sugar) and forces them to endure daily insulin injections.
From the Sydney Morning Herald:
Researchers … said they had reversed the disease in mice by injecting them with spleen cells from healthy animals.
The work was a follow up to research in 2001 in which spleen cells called splenocytes were shown to halt the auto-immune process behind type 1 diabetes.
At that time, the scientists were surprised to find that treated animals did not need a subsequent pancreatic transplant. Their bodies appeared to be secreting insulin anyway.
The unanswered question was whether a few remaining islet cells had been rescued in the diabetic mice, or whether new cells were actually being generated.
The new results, published in the journal Science, confirmed that the pancreas was being reconstructed in the sick mice.
That finding means for the first time there is a prospect of curing patients with type-1 diabetes.
The director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Diabetes Centre, Dr David Nathan, said: “These exciting findings in a mouse model of type-1 diabetes suggest that patients who are developing this disease could be rescued from further destruction of their insulin-producing cells . . . (and) patients with fully established diabetes possibly could have their diabetes reversed.”
Keep your fingers crossed. And do what you can to help keep this sort of research going.
For information on what you can do to live a healthier life and to help spread diabetes awareness, visit the American Diabetes Association Web site. And become a Diabetes Advocate — get involved in the cause.