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October 13, 2001

Research: Cure

Question from Tel Aviv, Israel:

Are there any advancements in finding a cure for type 1 diabetes? If yes, is there any cure with 100% success?

Answer:

There is now no ‘cure’ for type�1 diabetes. Recent Canadian work has shown that islet cell transplantation can be very successful, but the shortage of donor tissue and the need for lifetime immunosuppression remain as major disadvantages. A great deal of research is being done to circumvent both these problems by the use of various surrogate insulin producing cells such as porcine islets, stem cell derivatives and genetically engineered cells as donor tissue and encapsulation of these cells or the creation of microchimeras to get around the need for long term immunosuppression.

Success is likely to be many years away, but in the meantime, new insulins, new ways of administering insulin, painless ways of measuring blood sugars, and the ability to carbohydrate counting with the help of instruments like the Palm Pilot are doing much to make blood sugar control easier and less tiresome.

DOB