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July 5, 2000

Research: Cure

Question from Yahoo:

I have a nephew in China who is only 15 years old. Unfortunately he got diabetes of type 1 one year ago. Now he is weaker and thinner than before. Everyday he has to inject insulin. All of us worry about him. Several days ago, I was told that there is a new medicine discovered which can cure this disease. Could you tell me is this true? Where I can buy this medicine? If this is not true, could you tell me is this disease curable? Could you tell me a better method to cure this disease?

Answer:

The key question is whether or not your nephew in China has Type�1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. Sometimes it is difficult to tell them apart. If your nephew has type 1 diabetes, there is no cure. This is an autoimmune disorder where the beta cells of the pancreas are destroyed for unknown reasons. There is a lot of research to try to find a cure or a way to stop this destruction but none is presently safe, approved and available. The best treatment is insulin injections, usually several times each day coupled with balanced food and monitoring of blood glucose levels several times each day to serve as a guide to insulin and food treatment.

If your nephew has type 2 diabetes, then he is making some insulin on his own — although perhaps not all the insulin he needs. In this case, then there are many different types of pills — the most common is one called Glucophage [metformin, a pill for Type 2 diabetes] — that can be used instead of insulin injections.

The important question to relay to your family in China is to go to a diabetes specialist who can determine exactly which type of diabetes your nephew has — and then advise accordingly.

Some good sites, besides childrenwithdiabetes.com, to visit include the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation

SB