I would like to ask two questions. The first one: Is there any kind of radical therapy (for example, cell transplantation) for Type 1 diabetes? The second one: Are there any long-range effects of insulin use in a child with Type 1 diabetes (average life limit)?
Your questions are difficult to answer in a short response but essentially - yes, there are radical therapies such as transplantation of non-pancreas cells which have been modified to produce insulin. However, none are anywhere near ready for human trials and the best guess is that some will be available in around 10 years which will be capable of providing a "trickle" of background insulin which may make therapy easier.
Perhaps the best way of answering the second part of your question about the long term effects of insulin is to say that without it there would be no long term. Seriously, although there have been concerns about the effect of high blood insulin levels on some things such as the clogging of arteries with fatty deposits, there is nothing to suggest that we need to treat diabetes any differently than we currently attempt to do.
The American Diabetes Association web site (among others) is a good place to look for up-to-date information on radical therapies but remember to read all "promotional material" with great skepticism.
Original posting 30 Oct 97
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