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From West Hartford, Connecticut, USA:

I recently read somewhere that it is believed that a cure for diabetes has been found, that FDA approval was obtained in September 2001 to test on humans, and that it was hoped to have 'the cure' out on the market within 10 years. I can't remember the specifics of my resources, but two doctors from a university in Canada had been working and testing with animals for years. Do you know anything about this? Can you elaborate?


I expect that the work which you read about was a report by Cheung AT et al. in Science 290.1959,2000. You might well find this in your regional library or the librarian could get it for you for a few dollars. A review of the theme is in Halban PA, Kahn SE, Lernmark A, Rhodes CJ. Gene and cell-replacement therapy in the treatment of type 1 diabetes: how high must the standards be set? Diabetes Oct;50(10):2181-91 2001. This works comes from a group in Edmonton where others recently achieved a signal advance in islet cell transplantation.

Other studies on developing islet like cells by genetic engineering and with stem cells are working to get around the problem of insufficient islet cell donors. If this approach is successful, there are also projects under way that promise immunological tolerance after minimal use of immunomodulatory products. In addition to these approaches there are hopes that autoimmunity might be suppressed before insulin dependence by drugs like mycophenolate or by vaccines like the B9-23 positions in the insulin molecule. Finally, if we can identify the environmental triggers that cause insulin dependence that would be a 'cure' too. Of course there are many other forms of diabetes, and, for people with type 2 diabetes, the best promise is to eat less and take more exercise which is not advice that the public find easy to observe in North America !


Additional comments from Dr. David Schwartz:

The "cure" this writer alludes to is not a cure, but rather the experimental, but encouraging transplant protocol ("The Edmonton Protocol").

Several study centers in North America have been approved. None for use in children, as I understand.


Original posting 24 Mar 2002
Posted to Research: Cure


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