Preventing Type I Diabetes
Reported September 5, 2007
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) — More than 1 million Americans wait and hope for a cure for type 1 diabetes, but could there be a way to prevent it?
The Gould’s are a family of 10!
“It’s really fun!” says mother Ellen Gould.
But it can also be hard work, especially because three of the kids have type 1 diabetes. If blood sugars aren’t carefully controlled, the disease can lead to blindness, kidney failure and even amputation.
“There’s no vacation from diabetes. It’s not like we can take a day off or a week off or anything like that,” father Dave Gould says.
The Gould’s recently found out their 3-year-old son Oliver is also at risk for developing the disease.
William Russell, M.D., a pediatric endocrinologist at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., is leading a study to prevent diabetes in kids like Oliver.
“We can actually measure things in the blood that will give a very good indication if somebody is on the road to developing diabetes or not,” he says.
At-risk patients in Dr. Russell’s study are given insulin pills. These pills are designed to re-program immune cells to become more tolerant to the insulin that the body attacks.
“There’s a lot of preliminary data to back it up,” he says.
In animals, the pills actually prevented mice from developing the disease, and in humans, they delayed it by almost five years — giving kids like Oliver more time to develop and become mature enough to take care of themselves.
“This would be a very important breakthrough if we could start out with a small delay, and ultimately preventing [type 1 diabetes] would be miraculous,” Dr. Russell says.
“To give [Oliver] a chance to not have to deal with diabetes would just be, amazing,” she says.
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