Sunday, February 07, 2016

236.1 - Good News: progress on a cure for Type 1 diabetes

Good News: progress on a cure for Type 1 diabetes

According to a study newly published in the journal Nature, researchers at MIT and Harvard believe they are close to developing a treatment that would effectively cure Type 1 diabetes, sometimes if rather inaccurately called juvenile onset diabetes.

With Type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce the insulin necessary to get the glucose in your bloodstream into the cells where it is used for energy. This is as opposed to Type 2 diabetes, where the body does produce insulin but can't use it properly so there is never enough to prevent a buildup of glucose in the blood.

For some time, researchers have worked on a treatment involving transplanting insulin-producing cells into the patient's body, which seems to control blood sugar better than drugs or injections and in 2014 a method was developed to mass produce these cells. The problem is these cells can be destroyed by the immune system, rendering them useless.

The new study tested what it dubbed an "invisibility cloak" that in effect prevented the immune system from seeing the implanted cells as foreign bodies. The researchers were able to keep the immune systems in mice from attacking the transplanted cells for nearly six months.

Obviously more work needs to be done, but the researchers expressed optimism that a combination of an improved "cloak" plus the existing ability to transplant insulin-producing cells could, they said, effectively cure Type 1 diabetes.

And wouldn't that be good news.

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