Here at VariousAndSundry, we scour the web for news of every new cure for diabetes that gets announced, while nobody is ever actually cures.
Today comes news that scientists have once again cured diabetes.
With Type 2 diabetes.
But they don’t know how.
Yup, this will go far…
It does all lead to this delightful turn of phrase:
But because scientists already have the protocols and know-how to safely deliver FGF1 to human noggins via intranasal routes, moving toward clinical trials seems like a no brainer, they argue.
They can insert this into your brain through your nose! YES! SIGN ME UP! Wait, no, I’m Type 1. Nevermind.
I admit, I’m protected against this by a good health care plan, but I know how ridiculous the prices are — especially when I did take more one month and am close to running out before the renewal date.
In the United States, just three pharmaceutical giants hold patents that allow them to manufacture insulin: Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk. Put together, the “big three” made more than $12 billion in profits in 2014, with insulin accounting for a large portion. What makes this so worrisome is that the big three have simultaneously hiked their prices. From 2010 to 2015, the price of Lantus (made by Sanofi) went up by 168 percent; the price of Levemir (made by Novo Nordisk) rose by 169 percent; and the price of Humulin R U-500 (made by Eli Lilly) soared by 325 percent.
I’ve used two of the three of those in my life.
To make insulin affordable, we need more competition. Nothing would do this faster than a “generic” form of insulin. (Technically, because insulin is made using bacteria, it should be referred to as a “biosimilar” instead of a “generic.”) Unfortunately, there isn’t one available in the United States.
Don’t hold your breath, kids.
The Diabetic Lottery is that moment about two hours after dinner where you check your blood sugar to see if you guessed right at dinner.
Your odds of hitting the winning number there is pretty darn low, too.
The fun never ends.
A cure for Type 1 diabetes is a step closer after scientists managed to halt the condition for at least six months thanks to insulin-producing cells. Experts from US hospitals and institutions including Harvard University managed to transplant cells into mice, which immediately began producing insulin.
This sets a new record, I have to believe. It only took 25 days into the year before we got one of these stories.
I think I should tag these posts as YACFD – Yet Another Cure For Diabetes.
Keep your fingers crossed, but do NOT hold your breath.
The disease attacks insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas. Healthy people have billions of ‘peacekeeping’ cells called ‘T-regs’ which protect insulin-making cells from the immune system but people suffering Type 1 diabetes do not have enough.Now researchers at the University of California and Yale have shown that the ‘T-regs’ can be removed from the body, increased by 1,500x in the laboratory and infused back into the bloodstream to restore normal function.
Bascially, you’d go into the hospital once a year, they’d take two cups of blood out of you, treat it, and put it back in. Then, you don’t need to take any shots or additional insulin for the rest of the year. I assume you’d just keep an eye on your sugar levels and eat healthy and all would be good.
I’d take that.
I’ll believe it when I see it, though…
The new drug apparently works by stabilizing metabolites of an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA. These metabolites are thought to contribute to the beneficial effects of a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, Hammock said. Previous UC Davis research in the laboratories of Hammock, Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, Robert Weiss, Anne Knowlton and Fawaz Haj showed that the enzyme reduces or reverses such diabetes-linked medical issues as renal failure, hypertension, diabetic pain, hardening of the arteries and heart failure.
Or, you know, just take a vitamin instead.
With human embryonic stem cells as a starting point, the scientists were for the first time able to produce, in the kind of massive quantities needed for cell transplantation and pharmaceutical purposes, human insulin-producing beta cells equivalent in most every way to normally functioning beta cells.
Sounds good to me. Sign me up!
What’s a “Dia-Versary,” you may ask? It’s a diabetic anniversary.
Memorial Day weekend, 1987 was when I was officially diagnosed as a Type 1 Diabetic. We called it Juvenile Diabetes back then. We also tested our blood sugar by pricking our fingers with something everyone today refers to as the Guillotine. Click on this link to see it in all its glory. They even have the directions pictured there. Imagine hitting your fingers with it multiple times a day. It didn’t last long, as I recall, but it will never be forgotten… Wait, here, I have to include the pic:
It’s OK to shudder. We all just did with you.
I recently switched to an insulin pump and have nothing but great things to say about it, but maybe we’ll get to that in a future post.
For now, er, Happy Dia-Versary to Me! Please pass the Russell Stovers Sugar Free peanut butter cups, OK?
Things you learn from wearing an insuling pump after 27 years of taking shots:
Three days seems like such a long time — until you’re counting the days to change your infusion set. Then, it flies by. Just when you’ve gotten comfortable with one site, it’s time to change it out.
Checking your blood sugar is no longer a chore. It will never mean having to poke yourself with a needle again right afterwards.
Those annoying blood sugars somewhere between “perfect” and “just slightly high”? Not a worry anymore. Since the pump can dole out insulin in teeny tiny steps, let it do the work. You can think of 135 as a high blood sugar now if you want, since the pump will push out a little insulin to bring you back to 100. (Mine just gave me .1 unit for just that reading.) You never would have wasted a needle for less than a unit like that before.
You’re so hip wearing a pager on your belt!
Carbohydrates are measured in grams. OK, you likely knew that before, but you likely didn’t care that much.
Being in peak physical shape is awesome and all, but having a couple extra pounds around the belly makes for a far easier injection site, I have to think.
Women have a slight advantage here: With all their pants being low-rise, they have more room to plug themselves in.
9to5Mac has a scoop of what might just be coming up in iOS 8. It’s called Healthbook, and it’s one central place on your phone to put all your health data.
The most interesting section to me, of course, is the “Blood Sugar” part. Some immediately jumped that it meant that (A) the iWatch is coming and (B) the iWatch would magically check your blood sugar readings.
That last part is never going to happen. But — there’s a solution here for diabetics that’s awesome, if Apple can pull it off. There are things called CGM — Continuous Glucose Monitors. They stay attached to you around the clock and measure your blood sugar levels through your interstitial tissues every minutes. They then beam the numbers to another device you keep on you to show you your readings. The insulin pumps these days can read those numbers, but the displays make for an ugly look into the data. Imagine a custom iOS app with nice graphs and tables of data? It would be much easier to use, and more likely for a diabetic to use it.
There’s no reason the iPhonecan’t graab that signal, aside from the proprietary nature of the data format? If Apple can strike a deal with the medical device manufacturers who make the CGMs, they can unlock those signals and make apps that show you how you’re doing.
I’m not sure if Apple would go so far as to add this data to the iOS 8 framework — I’m sure HIPPA would not make it easy, and users would at the least have to approve it on an app by app basis — but it would be nice if they could…
I’m still extremely cynical and pessimistic on this one. With evidence now that Apple met with the FDA to discuss wearable medical devices, the iWatch rumor mill is back at it.
9to5Mac is putting together the pieces and sees:
>Besides fitness tracking, a marquee feature of “Healthbook” will be the ability to monitor a user’s vital signs.
>The application will be able to track a person’s blood pressure, hydration levels, heart rate, and potentially several other blood-related data points, such as glucose levels, according to our sources.
I’m still not believing it. Measuring blood glucose is still reliant on blood samples. Measuring it by the moisture on your skin is still too science-fictiony for me.
Reading this article (it’s from 2012) is as frustrating today as it must have been to write back then. What’s changed in the glucometer industry since that was written? Absolutely nothing.
But the author makes an interesting point, and it made me put a random two together with another random two to create a piece of wild speculation that would be cool if it actually happened. Follow along:
A point in the article is that syncing your glucometer up to your computer, let alone your iPhone, is a ridiculous process. At best, you can buy a special wire to hook up the two, whose standards are not open. So you’re forced to use the manufacturer’s piss poor software. And you’re still connecting a cord. People don’t want to do that with their phones, let alone their glucometers.
We have wireless technology today. Bluetooth standards have only gotten better over the years. Recent upgrades mean Bluetooth chips use a miniscule amount of power. They won’t drain the batteries of glucometers anymore. It’s bad enough we’re stuck on oddly-shaped black and white 8-bit screens, but why can’t we get the data off the glucometer without writing it down or manually re-typing all the results into the computer? The data has already been entered. Why does that effort need to be duplicated? I’d rather get a half hour more exercise each week than spend time in front of an Excel spreadsheet or web site’s form to enter all those numbers in.
I know this sounds like a classic First World Problem, but it’s the reality of the situation. It’s how Apple has become such a huge company, by removing the little obstacles that technology presents to getting things done that matter in every day life. Why can’t the diabetes world have a savior like that?
What if it IS Apple, though?
Apple has also hired several experts in the field of non-invasive blood monitoring sensors from C8 MediSensors. This firm is a company that became defunct in February of this year, according to its former CTO Rudy Hofmeister (who departed the company in late 2012).
The company’s technology provides a non-invasive way to measure substances in the human body such as glucose levels. […]
During a phone call, the former CTO told us that the company broke down because the glucose-level-analysis technology was facing issues surrounding the consistency of data readings. When the company dissolved, Apple moved aggressively to hire several C8 MediSensors directors and engineers, including designers and scientists that specialize in machine learning (a form of artificial intelligence that focuses on interpreting forms of data), Hofmeister said.
Could an iWatch have a blood sugar reader incorporated into it? While I would love that idea, I’m not sure it’s feasible just yet. It would be the ultimate solution, particularly if it kept a constant read of your levels, even if only every 15 minutes. But what if there’s a middle ground here?
What if those two were hired for their connections with the diabetes industry? What if their job is to schmooze key players in the diabetes world to add Bluetooth to their Glucometers so that they could sync up with iPhones directly, or indirectly through an iWatch? Wouldn’t a company like LifeScan love to be featured at the iWatch roll-out as having a new glucometer that ties in with this “stunning” new device?
It would be cool, and it would certainly be less impossible sounding than an actual watch that read blood sugar magically through the skin.
Just a theory.
P.S. My glucometer’s time stamp doesn’t automatically change for Daylight Savings Time. I’m a professional computer programmer, and I have not been able to figure out how to change it manually. I think if I pulled out the battery, everything would reset so I would have to reset the time. But then I’d lose my history of readings. That’s an awful user experience.
Here’s a great video from a guy who has both an insulin pump AND a continuous glucose monitor. Here he goest through his routine of changing out his pump and monitor sets.
I admit that there’s a moment about 9 minutes into this video that got me a little emotional. This being a father thing softens you up…
You can read his full story here, and I definitely recognize parallels to my own situation, though I was only 11 when mine was diagnosed.
I found all this while following a story about hackers killing diabetics from a half mile away that is more than half-hogwash. Don’t worry, it’s not true. And since I don’t use a pump, I wouldn’t be affected, anyway.
On the perhaps brighter side, we return to the research of Dr. Faustmann, who years ago I once sent the biggest charitable check in my life to. (Lee Iacocca was a big contributor to her work at the time. That link is from 2006.)
She’s seeing results now for curing diabetes through a TB vaccine:
The first trial in a handful of humans has suggested that injecting patients with Type 1 diabetes with an inexpensive vaccine normally used to prevent tuberculosis can block destruction of insulin-secreting pancreatic cells in humans and allow regeneration of the pancreas. Such a finding, if confirmed and expanded on, could lay the foundation for freeing the estimated 1 million U.S. Type 1 diabetics from their daily insulin shots. It brings up a word that is rarely or never used in considering the disease: “cure.” Such an outcome is still a long way in the future, but Dr. Denise Faustman of Massachusetts General Hospital has already come a long way in her quest to find a new treatment paradigm for diabetes.
So she’s actually showing progress, at least, moving in a direction that most people gave up on too long ago, in the hopes of making it easier to take shots and prick our fingers endlessly. Thanks, Dr. F!