Ask the Diabetes Educator Archive

10/18/04

Q:

How close are we to a cure for type 1 diabetes? I am reading things all the time about clinical success with islet transplants around the world. When will this be available on a wide-scale?

A:

Although there have been successful cures for Type 1 diabetes using islet transplants, there are still years of research ahead before this procedure can be available for the general population. One of the major problems that needs to be solved is to find a way to make treatment possible without the use of immuno-supressing medications. Also, researchers need to find a way to make artificial islet cells since the lack of viable human islet cells limits treatment to very few people. The current use of islet cell treatment involves use of the Edmonton, Canada Protocol being tested at some diabetes centers in the U.S.

Some of the islet cell research projects that Diabetes Action has supported include islet cell regeneration with the InGap peptide at the Strelitz Diabetes Institute at Eastern VA Medical School. In addition, Diabetes Action is supporting the following research projects to improve the success of islet transplantation:

  • At Sansum Medical Research Institute in CA, Dr. Atwater is finding the pregnancy hormone, prolactin, is one successful strategy.
  • At the University of VA, Diabetes Action is currently funding an exciting project where Dr. Mirmira is studying ways to reprogram other cell types to mimic the insulin producing ability of islet cells.
  • At Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA, Dr. Arafat is studying ways to inhibit the production of nitric oxide which induces cell death after transplantation.
  • At Georgetown University in Washington, DC, we are funding a new project where Dr. Sobel is developing a gene strategy to cure Type 1 diabetes.



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