We R the Cure

Seeking Cures and Cheating Destiny

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Research News You Can Use: German Doctors Successfully Implant Insulin-Producing Cells

German doctors have successfully implanted insulin-producing cells in a patient with Type 1 diabetes using a specially constructed chamber system that does not require the use of immunosuppresant drugs, according to a new study.

In a paper published Monday in the journal PNAS, researchers said the islets, or clusters of cells, remained alive for 10 months and were not rejected by the 56-year-old patient’s immune system. However, the implantation offered only moderate health improvements and requires further refinement. “This approach may allow for future widespread application of cell-based therapies,” wrote lead author Dr. Barbara Ludwig of the German Center for Diabetes Research in Dresden and her colleagues.

Full Article In Authin Mail, October 29, 2013.


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Another Step To An Artificial Pancreas And Better CGMs: Spending The Night at The Duke House, “Sunnyside,” In Historic Charlottesville

This week I’ve started a new clinical trial at the UVA Center for Diabetes Technology in Charlottesville. It carries an impressively long scientific study name: Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Glucose Variability. Impressive, right? The purpose of the study is to investigate how blood sugar changes in response to insulin and what the body does to counter-act low and high blood sugar in people with Type 1 diabetes. The month-long study, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH),  ends with an in-patient stay at UVA where my blood sugar will be raised to 250 mg/dl and then lowered ( using additional insulin) to a hypo level less than 65 mg/dl. (Insulin Sensitivity is the term used to describe these changes in the body).

There’s also a hidden surprise in this study — testing a new piece of Continuous Glucose Monitoring ( CGM ) technology designed to work in tandem with the new Artificial Pancreas closed-loop system. But, I’m getting ahead of the story.  I will post updates on my clinical trial starting this week and until the trial ends in November.

The Duke House Built in 1800 in Charlottesville

The Duke House, ” Sunnyside” built in 1800

My trip to Charlottesville for Day 1 of the trial included a nice surprise for me — an American history lover and a native of Charlottesville. Prior to my Saturday morning health screening,  I was allowed to spend the night at The Duke House, also known as “Sunnyside”  on Barrack’s Road located on the North Grounds. The house is owned by the University of Virginia and is presently used as a guest house for participants in the Diabetes Center for Technology clinical trials.

The original section was built about 1800, as a 1 1/2-story, two room log dwelling. It was expanded and remodeled in 1858, as a Gothic Revival style dwelling after Washington Irving‘s Gothic Revival home, also called Sunnyside. The house features scroll-sawn verge boards, arched windows, exposed beam ceilings, and a fieldstone chimney with stepped weatherings and capped corbelled stacks topped with two octagonal chimney pots.

I was welcomed to The Duke House by Dr. Sue Brown and Laura Kollar, RN, for the Center for Diabetes Technology at UVA. As I settled in for sleep late at night in the charming old house — which does have all the modern amenities — I did wonder if it would be the perfect setting for the TV show ” Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Fortunately for me, it was only the small feet of mice that could be heard running in the walls and the halls. Or maybe it was a Type 1 D searching the kitchen for a juice box?

SunnysidebeamsThe original house was a log cabin built in 1800s by the Alpins family and the Sunnyside property is one of the oldest in Albemarle County. It also contains the remains of the 1806 County Poor House and was purchased the The University of Virginia in 1963 — the same year my father graduated and I celebrated by second birthday — to become a part of the North Grounds expansion.

My thanks to the UVA team for letting me stay here. It was an interesting and unexpected coincidence to spend a night in The Duke House, the night before the Duke University football team played UVA at nearby Scott Stadium.  Sometimes, life comes full circle and it was nice to be back spending a night in my hometown.

Next Post: My pre-clinical trial health screening at Barringer Hall, a part of the original UVA hospital and the old maternity ward — where I was born just a few years ago.

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Clinical Trial News You Can Use: Psoriasis Drug Shows Promise, Tested As Type 1 Diabetes Treatment

The NursingTimes reports this on Oct. 3: “Skin drug shows ‘promising’ results on type 1 diabetes,” reports BBC News.

This story is based on a small trial of alefacept in people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. The immune system of people with type 1 diabetes attacks the insulin producing cells in their pancreas. Most people with type 1 diabetes have to regularly inject themselves with insulin.

Alefacept is approved for use to treat the skin condition psoriasis in the US. Researchers hoped it might help people with type 1 diabetes, because both conditions are autoimmune conditions (where the symptoms develop due to the body’s immune system ‘malfunctioning’ and attacking its own healthy tissue). Alefacept suppresses one type of immune system cell associated with the autoimmune response, and the researchers hoped that it could also stop these cells from further attacking the insulin-producing cells.

Although the drug did not improve how much insulin was produced in the two hours after a meal, people taking the drug needed lower doses of insulin than those taking placebo and experienced fewer hypoglycaemia events – where blood glucose levels drop to an abnormally low level. These results should be seen as very preliminary, with larger and longer term trials now needed to determine whether alefacept does offer any benefit for people with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes.