When a person is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, he or she is condemned to a lifetime of regular insulin injections and constant monitoring of blood sugar levels. As the person living with diabetes gets older, he or she runs the risk of blindness, amputations, and premature death as the disease progresses.
However, a new treatment developed by the University of California at San Francisco presages an era when multiple insulin injections will be a thing of the past. The initial human trials, involving 14 people, has shown the treatment to be safe and to last up to a year.
One gets type 1 diabetes when the body’s immune system attacks the pancreas, which produced insulin naturally. Scientists have discovered that the pancreases of diabetics come under attack when they lack sufficient “T-reg” cells that protect it from the immune system.
The California researchers drew two cups of blood from each patient, containing several million of T-reg cells. Then they replicate billions of the T-reg cells and inject them back into the bodies of the patients. The results have been astonishing.
To be sure, it will be some time before the biotechnology industry will be able to provide this treatment in a clinical setting if it should be proven effective and safe by subsequent trials. By if or when it does, it will be a game changer for the treatment of type 1 diabetes. Instead of having to constant monitor their blood sugar level, inject themselves constantly with insulin, and watch what they eat, treatment would consist of annual trips to the doctor’s office. The daily injections will become part of history.
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