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October 1, 2001

Research: Cure

Question from Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico:

As a father of five year old daughter with type�1 diabetes, I want to know if there is any realistic milestone to find a cure. Are we three, five, or 10 years away from the cure? Will it be very expensive once they find it?

Answer:

There are many researchers all around the world looking for a cure for diabetes. We know a great deal more now than even five or ten years ago, but we believe that type�1 diabetes is a disease in which the body’s immune system gets mixed up — and attacks the normal beta cells of the pancreas. These cells are destroyed so that insulin deficiency occurs. Researchers are looking to understand how this occurs since this may give us a clue to block the autoimmune destruction. This may also give us some idea how to allow other beta cells or a pancreas/part of a pancreas to be transplanted.

For now, unfortunately, there is no immediate cure. State-of-the-art treatment is expensive and includes frequent blood glucose monitoring, multiple insulin doses designed to mimic how the pancreas used to work, knowledge of food and activity as well as illness/stress effects on blood glucose levels and close contact with a multidisciplinary diabetes treatment team to maximize treatment options for anyone with type 1 diabetes.

SB