Boston Children’s Hospital Finds Root Cause of Diabetes
They say that with just a little more study, they could possibly cure type 1 diabetes.
Boston Children’sÂ HospitalÂ could be on the verge of curing type 1 diabetes. Seriously. This huge news, which was announced today on their blog, could affect theÂ 215,000Â people in the U.S. younger than 20 who have diabetes (type 1 or type 2). That’s a pretty huge number, so it’s no wonder why it’s been called anÂ epidemic.
People who live with type 1 diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to regulate the glucose inÂ theirÂ blood. It’s an immediate fix, but there are many long-term complications associated with diabetes, like heart and kidney diseases, nerveÂ problems, skin issues, and problems with vision, among others.Â â€śInsulin injections can manage hyperglycemia by reducing the patientâ€™s glucose levels, but it is not the cure,â€ť says Dr. Paolo Fiorina of theÂ Nephrology DivisionÂ at Boston Childrenâ€™s Hospital in the report. The NephrologyÂ DivisionÂ was recently ranked number oneÂ in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
Fiorina was looking for the molecular pathway that triggers diabetes, hoping to find better treatment options with the ultimate goal of finding a permanent cure. â€śIn order to truly cure diabetes, we needed to pinpoint exactly why this happens. And then prevent it,â€ť Fiorina says.
According to Boston Children’sÂ Hospital, Fiorina and his teamÂ found the root cause of type 1Â diabetes:
Fiorina and his team studied hundreds of pathways in animals with diabetes. They eventually isolated one, known as ATP/P2X7R, which triggers the T-cell attacks on the pancreas, rendering it unable to produce insulin.
â€śBy identifying the ATP/P2X7R pathway as the early mechanism in the body that fires up an alloimmune response, we found the root cause of diabetes,â€ť says Fiorina. â€śWith the cause identified, we can now focus on treatment options. Everything from drug therapies to transplants that require less immunosuppression is being explored.â€ť
It will still be a few years before they can test the therapies in children, but the outcome of what was discovered here could be trulyÂ amazing.
â€śI believe it wonâ€™t be long before we can cure diabetes with a number of different therapies depending on the needs of the patient,â€ť Fiorina says on the blog. â€śThen, if the right screening techniques for diabetes could be developed, it would be entirely possible in many cases that we could prevent the disease from ever developing in children. The future of diabetes treatment is very exciting.â€ť
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2013/06/13/boston-childrens-hospital-found-the-root-cause-of-diabetes/