Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital may have come closer (perhaps the closest yet) to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes (old term is juvenile diabetes) is an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system attacks the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. Once under attack the cells are gradually destroyed, typically new ones are not made by the body. Because the pancreas can no longer supply insulin, people with Type 1 diabetes rely on insulin injections delivered via a pre-filled pen, syringe and vial or insulin pump, throughout their life. Diabetes oral medications or pills do not work for these individuals. Blood sugars are managed by combining an insulin regimen with meal planning and exercise.
Dr. Paolo Fiorina, and his team at the Boston Children’s Hospital may have the answer to a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Over the last several years researchers like Dr. Fiorina have been working towards finding a cure by analyzing the biological processes that may trigger the autoimmune response which heads the domino effect with the final verdict being a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes.
Dr. Fiorina and his team carefully studied hundreds of different biological pathways in animals at a microcellular level and have zeroed in on the ATP/P2X7R pathway which may hold the key to unlocking the cure.
When the ATP/P2X7R pathway is initiated it signals the T cells, the ‘soldiers’ of our immune system, to attack pancreatic beta cells and destroy them.
This may very well be the light at the end of a tunnel that thousands with Type 1 diabetes have been hoping for, even though it may be several years before these tests are tested out in children. Nevertheless this definitely is a significant breakthrough and perhaps even a reward for hard working scientists like Dr. Fiorina.
Dr. Fiorina is confident that someday there will definitely be a cure for diabetes and with newer diagnostic and screening tests, individualized treatment options and this important discovery, Type 1 diabetes may very well be prevented. “The future ofdiabetes treatment is very exciting”, states Dr. Fiorina.
Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the US with over 200,000 people under 20 years of age living with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes; thousands more are undiagnosed or have pre-diabetes, meaning they are at very high risk for developing diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes (old term is adult onset diabetes) make insulin but not enough to support normal blood sugar metabolism. Also the insulin is not used properly to metabolize the blood sugar. Their diabetes is controlled by pills or a combination of pills and insulin along with meal planning and exercise.