I read an article in the local paper this morning about a patient being treated with a new therapy to actually change the genes causing a disease. Why am I so pumped about this revelation? Diabetics have a defective SIRT1 gene that causes our immune system to target and destroy the insulin producing beta cells. If this works out, it could lead to an actual cure for diabetes.
I have heard for years about stem cells being used to replace beta cells and recently they have made great progress with them. The problem in my eyes lies in the fact that even if you harvested the person’s own stem cells so there is little chance of rejection, the body would still kill them off fairly fast. Remember this is how they were destroyed in the first place.
I told people before that if they cloned or manufactured beta cells, I would not want to do it. Why? Because you are simply dealing with the symptom not the cause. Dead beta cells may be the cause of not producing insulin but what caused the death of the beta cells? If you don’t fix that first you will get the same results. Isn’t that the standard definition of stupidity? To do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome?
I still talk to people who do not know the whole story of why diabetes happens. You ate too much, you didn’t exercise enough, or any of a number of different ideas on how diabetes is caused. Plain and simple it is a genetic disease that affects not only insulin production but other issues as well. Quit trying to mop up the water on the floor without fixing the leaky pipe first.
This gene fixing (splicing?) may be the cure we have been hoping for the whole time. Maybe, if we can fix our immune systems, the beta cells will grow back on their own. Even if they don’t, when they do find a way to replace them, the new ones will not be short term fixes but permeant patches.
Just wanted to chat about this potential break through. It is not guaranteed to work but it provides hope to us will little at the moment. With health care in limbo this may be a chance to fix diabetes once and for all along with the tremendous costs in dealing with it.. The therapy cost will undoubtedly be high but with i insulin cost and being prevented from certain careers because of this disease. I am hoping it works