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Cure For Insulin-Dependent Type One Diabetes

In my view, type one diabetes is one of the worst diseases out there. Despite living the healthiest lifestyle out there it is beyond challenging to stop the ravages of this disease. This has to do with the enormous, near impossible challenge, of artificially optimizing one's insulin levels. As many of you know elevated insulin is one of the major contributors to chronic disease. Longtime readers of this newsletter will know that I rarely use the word "cure" for any treatment, but this new approach for diabetes appears to be just that.

Researchers took pig cells from very young embryos and transplanted the cells into diabetic rats. The rats, even without drugs to prevent immune rejection, adopted the pig cells as their own and produced their own insulin. The key here is that embryonic cells were used. I was involved in the transplant field in the '70s before I went to medical school, and even back then islet cell transplants were being done. However, the embryonic cells are apparently young enough to not have any of the antigens that trigger rejection as the rats in this study appear to have formed perfectly functioning insulin cells without needing any dangerous and destructive anti-rejection medication.

Apparently no one had ever taken the pancreatic cells this early, used the whole pancreas and implanted it into the peritoneal membrane. The magic trio appears to have done the trick. The investigators hope to test the protocol in primates by the end of this year and if successful, human trials could soon follow. This is vital research as 1.5 million people have type one diabetes in the United States and 13,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.

Until we have a treatment it would be wise to:

Wired News February 27, 2004

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