SOMETHING FOR TYPE 1?
Sometimes my job sucks.
Occasionally, I hear from readers who say they’re sick. “Science,” they say, “pah! Who CARES about ‘fascinating’ papers by science geeks ? I need a cure. Not a rat model.”
And- you know what? – MISTER ScienceAintSoBad gets it. He does. He knows “interesting” has to take a back seat to “it’s killin’ me.” How often do I find you a nice little pill to cure cancer? I don’t even have anything much for diarrhea. I read through all kinds of crap about “breakthroughs”. Hah! Some breakthroughs! The mice feel better. For humans? We’ll get back to you on that.
What a job!
Could be things are getting better. My last article, Alzheimer’s, Things Are Starting To Look Good, had little glitter balls of hope stuck all over it. And now something about type 1 diabetes that could please you and add to my own optimism about less sick people to drag down Obamacare. Seriously! It could happen faster than anyone thinks.
The Type 1 vs Type 2 thing
The thing about type 1 is that you can’t make insulin. The cells in the pancreas that do this job get destroyed by the immune system Without insulin your blood sugar climbs. If you don’t get yourself stabilized with supplementary insulin, you won’t last. Even if you are a very good patient, you may have to work very hard at keeping your sugar level in a good range. If you are lucky you may avoid some of the crappy complications but it won’t be easy. Type 2 usually comes on later in life and is because your body loses its ability to efficiently use the insulin that it produces. It’s not a lack of insulin; just can’t seem to use the stuff right. You wind up needing extra. You don’t want either type of diabetes but individuals with type 1 often have a tougher challenge.
What I saw was published in the journal Diabetes. (Dr. Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD and Dr. A.W. and Mary Clausen). It’s about a drug called teplizumab which, in a very sophisticated way, keeps T-cells (the business end of the immune system) from going after the insulin producing cells on the pancreas. The strength of the results even surprised the scientists conducting the study; they were “very excited by the efficacy”.
Well, here’s the thing. This IS exciting. (That’s what they said in the press release, right?) Great news. BUT these are only phase II trials on 52 kids under 15 years old. Half the kids did great. That’s why so much excitement. But what about the other kids? They didn’t do as well. The study says this might be because it works best where the insulin producing cells are still in fairly good shape. In other words, where the disease hasn’t been active that long. But, come ON! These were teenagers with newly diagnosed disease. Obviously this part needs to be cleared up. Still. Such great results do justify moving right along to phase III. Great potential here.
By the way, this isn’t the only hope. There’s other research attacking the disease from other directions. That’s good. We don’t want to kick people under the bus just because they’ve been sick for a long time.– – – – – – – – Image credits: That’s mine.