It is estimated that nearly 21 million people in the United States have diabetes. Further, there are dire predictions of a dramatic increase in the incidence of newly diagnosed cases in the near future.
The complications of diabetes include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and amputations (more than 60% of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States occur among people with diabetes). Estimates of the cost of diabetes in the United States (direct and indirect) are ~$132 billion.
Two concurrent studies at the University of Pittsburgh continue to make impressive strides in the field of diabetes prevention and treatment, the results of which offer promise in the future for diabetes patients and their families.
McGowan Institute faculty member Dr. Massimo Trucco and his research team have successfully reversed Type I diabetes in animals by injecting the animals' own harvested dendritic cells, which allow the pancreas to resume insulin production. A clinical trial of this pioneering therapy is underway involving at least 15 patients over the age of 18 with Type I diabetes.
The work of Dr. William M. Ridgway's team that is investigating the prevention of Type I diabetes was reported in the January 2007 issue of Diabetes, the journal of the American Diabetes Association. The report profiles the successful trials into preventing Type I diabetes in mice using antibody injections targeting receptor CD137. His investigation suggests that this type of therapy may one day work on people who are genetically predisposed to insulin-dependent diabetes.
Illustration: MicroSoft clipart.
Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (03/27/06)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (01/09/07)