A few promising developments were highlighted at the San Diego meeting of the American Diabetes Association over the weekend. But, first, the bad news: A study in the Lancet, and reported by Reuters, found that the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled since 1980 to 347 million. Considering how much it costs for each patient to treat the disease over a lifetime, and you get an idea of the scope of the problem.
The Mayo Clinic tells us about the artificial pancreas in development that it hopes will someday make pin pricks and daily insulin dosing a thing of the past. The combination blood sugar monitor and automatic insulin pump would detect, in real time, the patient's physical activity and respond with an appropriate amount of insulin. Those who exercise even a little after meals have less need for insulin than those who are sedentary, for example. An algorithm mimics the body's natural process of monitoring and responding to glucose levels in the bloodstream. Clinical trials begin in November.
And the Los Angeles Times covers an experiment with an inexpensive vaccine that might just reverse Type 1 diabetes. Previously, research in mice has shown that the TB vaccine BCG prevented T cells from destroying insulin-secreting cells, which gave the pancreas a fighting chance to recover and begin producing insulin again. Now, low-dose tests in humans are promising, with increases in insulin production. The research is promising even in those with a long history of diabetes.