Five months after Susan Weinberg’s wedding, her diabetes became so severe that even eight shots of insulin a day could not prevent a horrific car accident.
“I was lucky I didn’t kill myself or kill someone else,” said Weinberg. Soon, her low blood sugar episodes (hypoglycemia, knocked her unconscious daily. She couldn’t be left alone for years.
“I became a prisoner in my own body,” she said. “I never knew when it was happening, and I was always afraid.”
So afraid, she was willing to try something experimental. She became the first patient in a Type 1 diabetes clinical trial at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, CA.
Dr. Fouad Kandeel, an endocrinologist, gave Susan two islet-cell transplants, a short outpatient procedure, similar to an organ transplant that replaces cells inside the patient’s pancreas.
“I’m very excited. This is a cure [for type 1 diabetes] in the making,” Kandeel said. “It is personalized, customized therapy for what the patient needs.”
Kandeel showed images of Weinberg’s wild blood glucose levels before the transplant, compared with how stable they became right after.
He said the key was inside the pancreas, where cells produce insulin in healthy patients. But in diabetic patients, those islet cells die. Therefore, insulin cannot be produced. Kendeel can now transplant those dead islet cells with new living cells, reducing Weinberg’s insulin shots to zero.
“It was like freedom!” said Weinberg. “It was like I could drive a car. I could go to the market. I could sit at a park with a book and not worry I was going to be found slumped over the pages of the book.”
And the results lasted longer than expected. Weinberg lived needle-free for more than 10 years.
It was just recently that she needed a new transplant. But this time, Kandeel says the experimental procedure is more advanced.
Islet-cell transplants now have an 80 percent success rate after one year and a 60 percent success rate after five years, the same results as a typical organ transplant, but without many of the complications.
Kandeel is not done yet. Soon, he said will not have to rely on donors or the limited supply of those important islet cells. Instead, he’ll transform the cells right in his own lab.
“The future is to take the patient’s own cells and engineer them into insulin-producing cells,” something he expects to do in just a few years. He predicts it will also improve type 2 diabetes treatments as well.
“Really, the advancement is unlimited. And the future is very, very, very promising,” Kandeel smiled.
Health-e-Solutions comment: The real future is in being able to manufacture your own new beta cells AND stopping the autoimmune attack. If this researcher can overcome the obstacles to accomplishing these two feats, then we can call this #CuringType1Diabetes. Even so, 10 years insulin free is a good track record! I’ll bet most people would take that option now if it were available.
Until #CuringType1Diabetes is a reality within our reach, put your body in a position of strength to #MasterDiabetes the healthiest way possible. Lifestyle innovations as a priority over drug therapies may be the solution. Poor health feeds poor health in a vicious cycle, or negative feedback loop that is increasingly difficult to break the longer it continues. Promoting, supporting and creating health set in motion a positive feedback loop instead. Get tools and solutions to help minimize consequences and maximize benefits for nutrition, environment, exercise, sleep and stress management. These five health components make up the five pillars of health and nutrition in the Health-e-Solutions lifestyle. We’ll teach you how to improve each of these areas to help you #MasterDiabetes in the healthiest way possible.