The Search For A Cure

In the United States, approximately 20 million people have diabetes. Out of that 20 million, 14 million have been diagnosed and 6 million aren’t even aware that they have diabetes.

There are two major forms of diabetes. With Type 1 diabetes, the body no longer produces insulin. Type 1 diabetes can be treated by taking insulin shots and maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. Type 1 diabetes is usually hereditary or caused from failure to properly treat type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetics are considered insulin resistant. This means that their bodies produce insulin, but does not use the insulin properly. Type 2 diabetes is usually a result of obesity or sometimes it is hereditary. Most Type 2 diabetics can control their blood glucose levels through the use of oral medications, diet, and exercise. In some cases, Type 2 diabetics also use insulin therapy.

There has been great progress in the treatment of diabetes. Over the past several years, we have seen the introduction of continuous blood glucose monitors, newer insulins, and insulin pumps (Devices that can be programmed to continuously give the correct amount of insulin to a patient. It basically mimics what a normal pancreas does). The treatment of diabetes has benefited from research and education. But, with all of the advancements in the treatment of diabetes, there still is not a cure.

But, there is always hope for a cure. Dr. Horacio Rilo, a researcher at the University Of Cincinnati, is currently conducting research on islet cell transplants. Islet cells are the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. In Type 1 diabetics, islet cells are destroyed. What causes these cells to be destroyed is really unknown, but there is a belief that the body’s immune system sees the pancreas as a foreign organ and destroys the islet (beta) cells. With islet cell transplants, the destroyed islet cells are replaced with fresh islet cells from a donor. The hope is that the body accepts the donor cells and the body once again produces insulin.

To date, Dr. Rilo has performed islet cells transplants on six patients and today - one of those patients is completely off of insulin therapy. This is very promising to Type 1’s like myself.

What is unfortunate is that Dr. Rilo has lost funding for this project. What is fortunate is that he is carrying on his work through private donations and volunteers.

The Cincinnati Post published a great article on it earlier this year.

If you would like to make a contribution to Dr. Rilo’s research, learn more about diabetes or islet cell research, take a look at my doctor’s website.

Know the symptoms, get treated, and TCOYD.

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