Monday, May 17, 2010

Dream a little dream - life after a cure

As my last post for Diabetes Blog Week, I'm gonna write about what I think my life would be like if my diabetes was suddenly cured.

To someone without a chronic illness, I imagine they must think that having your diabetes instantly cured must be absolutely fantastic. And don't get me wrong, I am quite keen to be done with all the blood tests and injections and lows and highs and all that other boring stuff. But to be perfectly honest, I think that if I woke up one day without diabetes I would be scared. I just wouldn't believe it.

I've been diabetic since I was five, and it's just about all I can remember. I only ate one chocolate bar before I was diagnosed. And I've only eaten 3 since. It has been a part of my life for 22 years, so for it to suddenly be gone would take a bit of adjusting.

I imagine that I would not stop testing my blood sugar. Perhaps the testing would dwindle away as the weeks passed and the tests kept giving me the "you're cured" result. Perhaps I would forget to get a prescription for test strips in time, and not fly into a tizz about it. Perhaps I would eat a whole bag of candy floss and not feel guilty, and not get a "high" headache afterwards. Perhaps.

Ever since I've been visiting doctors for diabetes, a cure has always been "10 years away".

But last year that changed (I hope) to 3 years away, and this year to 2 years. Would you like to know what I'm talking about? It's the pioneering work of Professor Bob Elliot, and his work with micro-encapsulation technology. In a nutshell, what him and his team have been working on is a way to implant insulin producing cells from specially bred pigs safely into humans without the need for immunosuppressant drugs.

They have figured out a crafty way to coat the pig cells in a seaweed-type substance which basically hides the foreign cells from the human body's immune system. This means that the implanted cells are free to produce insulin, without being destroyed by the recipient's body.

And where's the proof, you say? Well, the team is in the middle of human clinical trials right now, and they have already had 2 people come completely off insulin for periods of time. And I have been in the interesting position of saying NO to this treatment twice already (because you cannot be accepted for the clinical trials if you wish to become pregnant). My endo actually has another of his patients on the trial.

Here's the link:

So that's my thoughts about a cure. It's only a matter of time.


  1. It's that close??! OMG fantastic. Even if it's 'just' within our lifetime, that's a fantastic thought. Even if it doesn't 'cure' me, I'll rest a little happier knowing that our children will be in a better medical space. *Content sigh*. Go Bob. He rocks.

  2. I'm so glad to hear of this research and embarrassed to say I hadn't heard of it earlier. Thanks for giving it some exposure.

  3. I have been reading this post across the blogs of blog week. Not many people believe it will happen to them. I'm with you, I think LTC is on the right track. My islet cell transplant shows how close we really are, but the pig islets will move things along even faster.

  4. Hi Kathy,

    Wow! It's so great to "meet" someone who is actually involved in this new technology. How tough is the immuno-suppressant medication? And how does it feel to have no more diabetes? :D