I went online this morning and decided to look at the world of diabetic research and not just what is being tested but what direction they are looking to go. Are they looking at better insulins or better way of automating the delivery? Are they looking at replacing beta cells (insulin producing cells) or gene therapy to correct the immune fault that kills them.
The one research program I am looking forward to seeing come to us final users is a patch to not just deliver the insulin but monitor glucose levels at the same time. Zhen Gu, PhD is working on this with a grant from the American Diabetes Association to develop this technology. Testing is now on mice but I hope this goes some place. Imagine the implication of this, a diabetic could place the patch on each morning and go all day with only 1 or 2 “finger pokes” a day to make sure it is working properly. I quoted finger pokes since some of us prefer to use forearms and other locations with modern blood sugar testing equipment. Check out the ADA website and you can look at all the research they are funding.
Surprising although I did not look very deep into the list (it is a long one) I didn’t see much on stem cell research. I have said in past blogs that I am against such research as the cause of the beta cell failure is attributed to a bad SIRT 1 gene. If you don’t fix that then how can you call it a cure? You are just fixing the symptom and not fixing the cause. The lack of insulin is caused by the failure of the beta cells but one could argue that it is really caused by the genetics problem that ends up killing the beta cells with an immune response. The old chicken or the egg issue again isn’t it?
The Diabetes Research Institute is working on this problem. They are looking several ways of protecting the beta cells after transplantation. This includes preventing inflammation around the BIOhub where the cells are contained thus preventing your immune system from attacking it/them, using “helper cells” to give the cells a hand in fighting the immune system, or encapsulation to hide the cells from the immune system. The last two are local drug delivery where the drugs are used just right at the beta cells but not the entire body and immune tolerance where they teach your body to ignore the beta cells.
My only issue with some of the treatments being looked at are that they are technology based. I have since day one not been a fan of having a machine control my life by automatically giving me my insulin doses. I have never seen a machine yet that does not break down after time. My own experience with a pump was not as good as promised. I do not react like a normal person to insulin or at least to the set dosing patterns. They started me at a basal rate of 1.8 units per hour. By the time they got it right, well better, it was down 0.025 in the afternoon, way lower than I started. Why was it necessary to start me at that high insulin rate? Was it the insulin guidelines or the guidelines set by the machine?
I now have a CGM device and it has bee invaluable in proving what is going on all day. It has helped me prove to my doctor that I needed my basal insulin rate reduced once again. The new insulin was started at 25 units per day and now it is at 10 units when working and 12 on the weekends when not working. Again that is a difference of more than half of starting rate. I have been afraid of going back to working out until this gets solved as it will once again lower my basal rate. We’ll work on one problem at a time.
Will I ever see the day when I can slap a patch on my leg and get a steady blood sugar all day? I really hope so but I am not going to hold my breath for waiting for it. Better yet I hope they can do gene therapy in the future and fix the genetic fault that lets my immune system eat my beta cells like christmas candy.
Look it up online. I used “diabetic type 1 research latest” as the source for all the results. You get quite a lot. This whole article has been of course geared toward type one diabetics. Type 2 diabetics have a different cause for their issue.