In 1921, Fredrick Banting discovered insulin, changing the way type 1 diabetes was treated forever. (Fun Fact: Banting sold his "new insulin product" to the University of Toronto for just a $1, ensuring that almost everyone would be able to obtain the new medicine and that it wouldn't be too expensive!) Then, in 1962, the first glucose meter was invented, helping people with diabetes manage their blood sugars since. In 1985, the first insulin pump was invented, therefore modernizing diabetes treatment. Now, in 2013, another revolutionary discovery may have been made. 5 beagle dogs have been cured of diabetes for the past four years and have exhibited no symptoms of type one diabetes since their treatment, even after eating and exercising.
In the study on the beagles, the dogs underwent a gene therapy treatment. The gene produced a protein that detected the amount of insulin in the skeletal muscles and delivered the proper amount of insulin. After the treatment was concluded, the protein had been incorporated into the dogs' DNA. Even after excessive exercise and eating, the beagles showed no sign of hypo and hyperglycemia (High and low blood sugars). This experiment has been conducted on lab mice as well, and also showed promising results. However, type 1 diabetes is different in humans and dogs. In humans, the immune system attacks insulin producing cells, whereas these dogs had diabetes chemically induced. Although there is still much work to be conducted before a gene therapy treatment can be applied to humans, it is a crucial step in finding a cure for diabetes. Before these experiments, the focus on a cure was mainly placed on beta cells, never muscles, and never gene therapy. Therefore, this experiment could open entirely new doors towards research for a cure for type 1 diabetes.
No matter how this treatment transpires, it proves that anything is possible. Most researchers never expected for a gene therapy to cure type one diabetes, even if it was diabetes that was clinically induced. However, the unexpected seemed to work! Nothing is impossible, because the word itself says "I'm possible." Basically, what I am trying to convey is that even with type 1 diabetes anything is possible, and almost anything can be a possibility to treat diabetes. There may be bumps along the road...I mean it wasn't too easy for Banting to discover insulin, but he did! However, every new idea, discovery, invention, and every person has the opportunity to influence the world in one way or another. This recent study on beagle dogs may not provide the cure to type 1 diabetes, but it may give researchers and scientists new ideas and new ways to think about a cure.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!