In June 2012, a new study introduced the world to a real possibility of a type 1 diabetes cure. For Type 1 diabetics and the people who love them, this news has important implications about their health and their future. Although trials are still in their beginning stages, preliminary discoveries suggest that this new avenue of treatment has the potential to cure Type 1 diabetes once and for all.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder. A difference in a type 1 diabetic’s genes causes the body’s T cells to attack its own insulin-producing beta cells. Without these cells, the body can’t produce insulin. Without this insulin, type 1 diabetics cannot control their blood sugar levels.
Consequently, type 1 diabetics are dependent on insulin supplements. It was once thought that Type 1 diabetics were doomed to be insulin dependent for their entire lives. Once the body’s insulin-producing beta cells were destroyed, scientists thought, they could not be regenerated. But this new type 1 diabetes
cure research from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston turns most of traditional understanding of Type 1 diabetes on its head.
Type 1 Diabetes Cure Research
In the search for a type 1 diabetes cure, June 2011 was an important date that marked the potential discovery of a permanent solution. The key to the new diabetes cure is a two-part attack. One part stimulates the body to produce new insulin-producing beta cells. This new cell generation is stimulated by neutrogenin3, a gene they introduce into the body via an injection. Once in the body, the gene stimulates the formation and continual production of new cells.
The other part of this potential type 1 diabetes cure’s one-two punch protects those newly formed beta cells. Scientists accomplish this with another feat of genetic engineering. This time the savior is a gene called CD274. This gene incapacitates any T cells that come near the beta cells in the liver. And because it specializes, the gene does not attack any healthy cells anywhere else in the body.
This combination of cell regeneration and protection is promising. With gene therapy, doctors can help the body do what it naturally cannot. And because it introduces these changes without harmful chemicals, patients do not run the risk of toxic side effects.
Type 1 Diabetes Treatment
Scientists first tested their new gene therapy on mice. The subjects were 22 non-obese mice suffering from type 1 diabetes. Each of the mice were given one injection of the gene therapy.
After one injection of this potential type 1 diabetes cure, the changes were dramatic. 17 out of 22 of the mice — around 80 percent — had normal insulin levels return. Their type 1 diabetes — previously thought to be incurable — had reversed. Their blood sugar and insulin levels returned to normal as if they had never had the disorder.
These mice not only enjoyed healthier lives; they were longer two. Mice with type 1 diabetes usually only live six to eight weeks. However, with this new potential type 1 diabetes cure, type 1 diabetes life expectancy has the potential to increase significantly. Mice with reversed type 1 diabetes lived as long as 18 weeks after they received the injection.
The 5 mice that were not completely cured became diabetic again after a short period of respite. These outlying mice are opening up other avenues of study for the scientists. They are experimenting with the dosage of genes and the type of genes used. Once they get the formula right, human trials are expected to begin.
For type 1 diabetics and the people who love them, it is difficult to imagine more exciting news. In the fight for a type 1 diabetes cure, 2011was a banner year. These new studies have the potential to reduce the pernicious effects of type 1 diabetes, a disease that affects millions around the world. For those hoping for a type 1 diabetes cure, these trials show the most promise.
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