Doctors researching possible cure for Type 1 diabetes - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Doctors researching possible cure for Type 1 diabetes

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Doctors are researching a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes (WFSB) Doctors are researching a possible cure for Type 1 diabetes (WFSB)

Millions of Americans are living with diabetes and there is word that a potential cure for the disease is being tested on humans.

Doctors said they are very excited about the potential upside, but stress that when dealing with clinical trials, it could take years before it is all worked out.

"Now that you have an opportunity for a cure, that's likely to be a game changer,” said Dr. Abayomi Akanji, with Quinnipiac’s Netter School of Medicine.

Akanji has researched diabetes for roughly 30 years, so the news about a possible cure is music to his ear.

"Using stem cells, this is really cutting edge research,” Akanji said.

Johnson and Johnson and Viacyte are testing a new therapy on patients with Type 1 diabetes, which is when your pancreas produces little to no insulin. It is often diagnosed in children and young adults.

Using embryonic stem cells, doctors implant a small capsule filled with insulin producing cells.

"If it works very well and can sync with the blood vessels and other hormones in the body, it’s like getting a brand new pancreas,” Akanji said.

Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the country, so this could be life changing for nearly 30 million Americans living with the disease, and the one-and-a-half million with Type 1.

"People living with Type 1 diabetes have to prick their fingers anywhere from 8, 10 to 12 times a day to check their blood glucose level,” said Chris Boynton of the American Diabetes Association of New England.

If the clinical trials are successful, the treatment could be available for patients with Type 1 diabetes in several years, and also be used for those with Type 2 down the road.

"Diabetes is a very difficult disease in that people who are living with it have to think about everything they are doing, minute to minute-- exercising, stress, what they're eating,” Boynton said. “Anything we can do to take that management of the disease out of their hands and let them live a normal life is great for people living with diabetes."

A doctor with Yale’s School of Medicine told Eyewitness News that he is at a diabetes conference in Italy right now, and said it is extremely exciting news, adding that they had already signed up offering to be one of the sites as testing moves forwards.

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