Cures For Diabetes Type 1
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, takes a toll on the lives of patients and families and affects every system of the body. There are cures for the disease on the horizon, but to date the only treatment is to manage the disease with frequent insulin injections and lifestyle interventions. The American Diabetes Association is devoted to prevention and finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. A leader in trying to find a cure for type 1 diabetes is the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Australia.
President and CEO, Alan Lewis PhD joined the JDRF in 2009. He has been focused on stem cell research to cure type 1 diabetes. According to Dr. Lewis in an interview found at Future Medicine, “One thing that I am going to focus on is making certain our research considers the patient in a slightly different way: what we refer to as the ‘person centric’ approach. Type 1 diabetes is a disease that affects people from infanthood through to the elderly. This gives us a different constituencies of patients and their loved one: patients who not only want to help their loved ones: patients who not only want to help their child who has diabetes, but also want to know if it can be prevented in their other children; teen-agers or college-aged young adults who want to know how to handle the disease in a social context; and people who have had diabetes for years, in some instances decades who want a cure, but are also concerned about complications .” He adds, “Eventually, we hope to become the go-to organization for information related to type 1 diabetes for everyone involved in this disease…”
Type 1 diabetes is linked to autoimmunity. Scientists, looking for a cure for type 1 diabetes have found a drug that suppresses the immune system to help reverse and possibly cure type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs in children when the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin.
Thymoglobulin, manufactured by Tolera is designed to stop the immune system from destroying insulin cells, leading to a cure for type 1 diabetes. The drug could be taken for a short period of time to “reprogram” the immune system and cure type 1 diabetes. The immune suppressing drug is the first to offer a potentially safe cure for type 1 diabetes.
An artificial pancreas system that includes an insulin pump and monitoring device that tracks blood sugar levels offers a way to keep glucose levels under control. The artificial pancreas device is not a cure for type 1 diabetes but has offered a novel way to help prevent complications of the disease and improve quality of life. The technology frees individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes from the constant task of monitoring glucose levels and keeps glucose levels under control, preventing complications of the disease and currently is awaiting FDA approval.
Video about artificial pancreas
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination is a promising treatment that could cure type 1 diabetes. The vaccine could also prevent type 1 diabetes among high risk individuals. BCG vaccine temporarily raises levels of TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in humans and in mice. As of this writing, the vaccine is entering Phase II clinical trials. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin could prevent insulin loss and destruction to the beta cells of the pancreas.
Stem Cell Therapy
Stem cell therapy is being explored as a cure for type 1 diabetes, but there are many safety issues. According to the National Institutes of Health, “A major consideration is whether any precursor or stem-like cells transplanted into the body might revert to a more pluripotent state and induce the formation of tumors. These risks would seemingly be lessened if fully differentiated cells are used in transplantation.” One of the problems with stem cell therapy is finding a replenishable supply of cells that produce insulin, making stem cell transplant therapy a distant hope for curing type 1 diabetes, but nevertheless is being vigorously pursued by scientists.
Researchers are working on several approaches to cure type 1 diabetes. Because the body’s own immune system attacks the cells of the pancreas, a cure for type 1 diabetes may be decades away from becoming a reality. Stem cell therapy may offer the greatest hope for a cure for type 1 diabetes, but many hurdles remain.
- NIH Resource for Stem Cell Research
- Artificial Pancreas
- Thymoglobulin Study
- American Diabetes Association
- Working for a Cure