Posted Dec 15, 2010
33- year old Mark Zumsteg has fought type 1 diabetes since he was 8-years old and figures he’s checked his blood-sugar level 80,000 times.
“I started off in life with about six or eight a day and obviously there are a lot of adjustments you have to make–diet and exercise,” Mark said. “You don’t go trick or treating–things of that nature.”
Mark has long hoped for a cure and researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center reportedly believe they may be 5 years away from doing just that–at least for men.
Scientists are using slivers of testicular tissue to replace faulty cells that create insulin.
The cells would normally create sperm–but at least in mice the laboratory grown pancreatic cells turned into functioning insulin-producing cells.
Baylor University Medical Center endocrinologist Priscilla Hollander called the study interesting because the body won’t reject its own cells.
“Of course there is what we call the rejection problems you know if you give people insulin cells from somebody else their body says whoa! this doesn’t belong to us we have to get rid of that,” Dr. Hollander said.
Mark takes his insulin kit everywhere and while doctors in the U.K. aren’t as optimistic about the study–he wants to someday be able to leave the kit behind.
“I’ve heard things you know of ways to help you maintain your diabetes but never anything that would take you off of insulin to stop the shots,” Mark said.
Mark is currently taking part in a type 1 diabetes study at Baylor with Dr. Hollander who is confident there will be a cure–someday.
“Eventually we will have a breakthrough but when that is going to be I don’t know,” Dr. Hollander said.
As for Mark–he hopes it’s sooner rather than later.
“I hope it works out,” Mark said. “You’re talking about a better quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. ”
Researchers hope that by adapting the technique to eggs female diabetics will also benefit.
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