Stem Cell Breakthrough Could Put an End to Daily Insulin Injections for Diabetics

People with type 1 diabetes have to inject insulin daily, and it often results in pain, redness, swelling, and itching at the injection site. But this could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a new breakthrough that takes us one step closer to a functional cure for type 1 diabetes.

Source: Stem Cell Breakthrough Could Put an End to Daily Insulin Injections for Diabetics

Sounds promising. However, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, wherein one’s immune system attacks and kills the insulin producing cells in one’s pancreas. I wonder what will keep the immune system from going haywire a second time. I am guessing they are on that too.

Diabetic Woman Becomes First in the World to Receive Pancreas Transplant Because of Needlephobia

A British woman has become the first person in the world to have a pancreas transplant because of a severe needle phobia, her doctors have said.

Sue York – who has had type-1 diabetes since she was seven – would shake uncontrollably and vomit when injecting herself with insulin.

Source: Needle-phobic pancreas transplant ‘world first’

I’m glad she was able to get the surgery and end her suffering.

The article doesn’t mention it, but I thought most transplants required the patient to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives. These drugs are generally oral, but require regular blood testing to ensure correct levels. That doesn’t seem to be the case here, or she would just be swapping one kind of needle for another (albeit less frequent), somewhat defeating the purpose of the surgery.  A blood test once or twice a month isn’t really comparable to the daily contact diabetics have with needles.

I was recently waiting for my turn to test my INR, listening to someone’s child who was freaking out about getting a needle for some reason.  That would have been me until I was put on warfarin/coumadin.  Weekly testing eradicated the issue for me, but I clearly did not suffer like this woman.  For me, testing weekly meant alternating arms.  Daily testing is awful, but I find it odd that she managed for so long.

Are Sperm Banks in the Business of Eugenics?

The most prominent sperm bank in the UK is under investigation after turning away donors with dyslexia and other questionable characteristics. This raises an important question: Should sperm banks be in the business of making “better” babies?

Source: Are Sperm Banks in the Business of Eugenics?

Picking who you have children with can also be considered eugenics…

This is another of those weird new instances where there isn’t really a difference between what is going on here with the assistance of new technology and what has been going on for a while, but the new thing feels really disconcerting. I don’t know if that feeling is justified, but it is there, and I think we’d do well to talk about it openly, at the very least.

In addition, though, this is sort of different because this necessarily applies a scientific sheen to what are unscientific gut feelings a lot of the time (as we currently know it). The reality is that we don’t really know what genes cause what things in people, or whether they are entirely genetic. Narrowing the pool of sperm donors like this seems like a hasty reaction that might not end up being beneficial at all and only really serves to further stigmatize those diseases and disabilities.

Then there’s the part about assessment based on things that can be due to epigenetics…

Smartphone-based System Does Job of Pancreas, Treats Type 1 Diabetes

Please sir/madam, you’ll have to disable your pancreas during take off and landing.  FAA regulations… 😉

People suffering from type 1 diabetes may soon be able to ditch constant finger pricks and manual insulin injections—if they have a smartphone on hand, that is.

Combined with a tiny sensor and wearable insulin pump, a smartphone can stand in for a pancreas, automatically monitoring blood-sugar levels and delivering insulin as needed, researchers report. The system, backed by a $12.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, will enter two final phases of international trials this year.

Source: Smartphone-based system does job of pancreas, treats type 1 diabetes

FAA guidelines already have exemptions for medical devices.

The “wireless sensor which reports every 5 minutes” is the part that most concerns me.  I know some who love their CGM, and they’re reasonably accurate.   But not accurate enough to trust for actual dosing decisions — before making any adjustments on an insulin pump, verify with a fingerstick.

Unless they’re using some new not-yet-released sensor, I wouldn’t want any automated algorithm making decisions based on the current CGM. Garbage in, garbage out… Except now, “garbage out” could kill you.  And that’s not even addressing security/safety concerns in the communication protocols, which others have pointed out. I’m glad to see innovation in this area and hope it develops, but there’s a long way to go here.

Yogurt Isn’t Always the Best Source of Probiotic Bacteria

As a parent with a background in science, I usually feel comfortable in the drugstore medicine aisle. I’ll stand there for 15 minutes comparing ingredients and prices, getting in every other parent’s way, and I’ll walk out feeling confident that what I have bought is a good value and will make my wee one feel at least a little bit better. Not so when I found myself faced with a daunting aisle of probiotics—live microorganisms that can confer health benefits—at my local health food store recently. I wanted to find some good bacteria to repopulate the gut of my toddler daughter, who was finishing up what seemed like her 80th dose of antibiotics in three months. I couldn’t even understand the labels, let alone fathom what I should buy. Did I want Lactobacillus GG? Bifidobacterium lactis? Lactobacillus acidophilus? What the hell were Lactobacillus anyway, and why does one small tub of them cost $28?

Source: Should Your Kids Take Probiotics?

Some aren’t aware that probiotics don’t take up residence, even in the best-case scenario. When you stop taking them, you stop getting whatever benefits they provided.

Typical American Diet Can Damage Immune System

…Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.

Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.

Source: Typical American diet can damage immune system

I think it was QI (highly recommended) where I heard about the study into hereditary genetics, how what grandparents ate was believed to affect grandchildren.

Three Important Things You Probably Don’t Know About Diabetes

When we think of diabetes, we tend to think of rich people with poor lifestyles. A chronic disease linked with obesity, heart disease and worse outcomes for some infectious diseases, diabetes tends to be associated in our minds with wealth, excess and over-consumption.

Source: Three Important Things You Probably Don’t Know About Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is a different disease. T1D is so different from Type 2 Diabetes, that many in the the T1D community think there should be different names for these diseases. T1D is an auto-immune disease with no known cause or cure.

Dogs can be trained to detect blood sugar levels by smell.  A T1D afflicted person can have a trained companion who is tasked with barking or otherwise alerting others or T1D person when their blood sugar is out of range… Dogs are cool. Think you’d get that from a cat? 😉

Coffee: Debunking the Hot Buttered Hype

People are putting butter in their coffee. And hey, if you’re just craving a new flavor experience, more power to you. The problem is that Bulletproof Coffee, the company behind the trend, is claiming that drinking a mug of fatty joe every morning instead of eating breakfast is a secret shortcut to weight loss and mental superpowers, and now the butter coffee has developed a cult of highly caffeinated, shiny-lipped adherents. So now we have to talk about it.

Source: Bulletproof Coffee: Debunking the Hot Buttered Hype

Butter in my coffee?  I guess it’s dairy like cream or milk… but the gag reflex is kicking in.  The article is pretty good about debunking the health aspects, so if you enjoy it for the sake of enjoyment.

I haven’t drank much if any coffee in a while now, but I’m thankful for co-workers who grind their coffee.  I love the smell more than I think I ever did of any coffee I can remember.  It’s like leather in a [horse] tack shop…

Human Clinical Trials for Verapamil: Reverses Type I Diabetes In Animal Models

A study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has shown that verapamil, a drug widely used to treat high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and migraine headaches, is able to completely reverse diabetes in animal models. The UAB team will now move onto clinical trials to see if the same results are repeated in humans.

Following years of research, the UAB researchers have shown that high blood sugar causes the body to overproduce a protein called TXNIP. Too much of this protein in specialized cells in the pancreas called beta cells contributes to the progression of diabetes by leading to the death of the cells and countering the body’s efforts to produce insulin.

Source: Human clinical trials to begin on drug that reverses diabetes in animal models

There are more than 2 types of diabetes.  A lot of what is considered Type I diabetes is a constellation of diseases that have a complicated relationship with blood sugar levels, beta cell death and the immune system.

Diabetics: Embryonic Stem Cells Coaxed Into Making Insulin

It doesn’t affect me, but I can’t help but feel for the people who have to deal with needles more than I do.

A team of Harvard scientists said Thursday that they had finally found a way to turn human embryonic stem cells into cells that produce insulin. The long-sought advance could eventually lead to new ways to help millions of people with diabetes.

Source: Scientists Coax Human Embryonic Stem Cells Into Making Insulin

Melton and others caution that there’s still a lot more work to do. For one thing, they need to come up with a way to hide the cells from the immune system, especially for people with Type 1 diabetes. But they’re working on that and have developed a shell to protect the cells.

There have also been examples when a procedure was first pioneered with embryonic stem cells, that later was able to be replicated with adult stem cells from the patient themselves. Initial attempts were probably made in part due to religious objections surrounding the use of embryos, but it has happened enough to consider that they might be able to do it here, with the patient’s own cells, so there wouldn’t be much of an issue with rejection.