Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Advances made in diabetes treatment

I haven't blogged in a while, and I have more to talk about, but I wanted to start with two articles I found, announcing advancements in diabetes treatment.

Experimental vaccine targets type 1 diabetes in children

The point of this vaccine is to preserve remaining pancreatic function, not to cure diabetes. The vaccine is to be used to prevent children with type 1 from losing any more insulin-producing cells. It can also be used to prevent high risk children from developing diabetes.

The article states this pretty clearly, so I don't understand why they've made this statement:

"If the clinical trial for a vaccine called Diamyd is successful, diabetes patients may never need another insulin injection."

If all the vaccine does is stop the autoimmune response from destroying any more islet cells, how is it going to change how much insulin kids currently need to take? If they are already taking insulin, that isn't going to change. Duh.

It's exciting to be able to prevent the autoimmune response, but hey, let's recognize this for what it is. It's not a cure for people who are already taking insulin — it's preventative for kids and people in the early stages so that they don't have to eventually take insulin.

Progress made on artificial pancreas for diabetic patients

This article suggests a discussion that I've been wanting to have after reading Diabetes Rising, so I'll save some of my thoughts on this for later. As a quick preview, though, in the book the author talks about a study he did to try out an artificial pancreas — a computer-driven system that tested blood sugar and delivered insulin every 15 minutes, more like a health pancreas would do. It effectively prevented any highs and lows in blood sugar, but at the time, the FDA wasn't allowing a computer to make decisions about how much insulin a person should be taking. This article predicts that in a few years, the technology will be made available to the public. I sure hope so!

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