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A cure is close, but action is required

With President Bush's recent veto concerning stem cell research funding, hope for finding quick cures to many devastating diseases has dimmed in this country. However, there is still a bright spot on the horizon for sufferers of juvenile diabetes.

Unlike type 2, or adult onset diabetes, juvenile diabetes is an autoimmune disease that only strikes children and young adults, and it can't be managed simply by changing eating and exercise habits. Also called "insulin-dependent" diabetes, the Type 1 version involves the complete shutdown of the pancreas, the body's natural insulin-producing organ. Without insulin, we can't process the food we eat. Blood sugars quickly climb to toxic levels while the body essentially starves.

Insulin injections provide life support to millions of Americans -- including my son -- but they aren't a cure. It's a daily game of "whack-a-mole" with life or death consequences, as sufferers alternately treat high and low blood sugar levels by administering insulin or carbohydrates. Over the long haul, diabetes takes its toll on the body, affecting the eyes, liver, heart, circulatory system, etc. It's not a pretty picture.

Luckily, through efforts of single-minded organizations like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), the likelihood of finding a cure during my child's lifetime is extremely high. Several promising therapies are coming closer to fruition -- from a "closed-loop" artificial pancreas that senses insulin needs and dispenses the hormone without human interaction, to targeted transplants of insulin-producing islet cells without the need for dangerous anti-rejection drugs.

The House and Senate have caught the excitement from their constituents over the closeness of a cure. In a rare show of bipartisan support, Senators Dorgan (D-ND) and Domenici (R-NM) have introduced a bill to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program. This past week, Representatives DeGette (D-CO) and Kildee (D-MI) introduced the House companion bill. These bills will extend the Special Diabetes Program for five years and increase funding from $150 million per year for type 1 diabetes research to $200 million per year.

Despite the tremendous support for the bill, JDRF is urging voters to contact their representatives this week to ask for their vote in favor of S.1494 in the Senate and H.R. 2762 in the House. To make it easy, JDRF has set up a Web page that will automatically e-mail your legislators and ask for their vote. It takes only a minute, and could help millions lead longer, healthier and happier lives.

To learn more about our family's efforts to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes, please visit or watch the video.

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Continuous Glucose Montior
By Aivas47a on 6/29/2007 4:27:53 PM , Rating: 3
Steve, if your son isn't using it already I highly recommend Minimed's new continuous glucose sensor. My teenage son is type 1 diabetic too and just upgraded to the continuous sensor last month. The sensor itself is a small device with a subcutaneous canula. The sensor draws a small amount of interstitial fluid and measures the glucose level based on electrical conductivity (as I understand it). A glucose reading is taken every 5 minutes and transmitted wirelessly to the insulin pump (if you have the right model). The pump displays 3- and 24-hour graphs of glucose levels, indicates the rate of change upwards or downwards, and gives high/low blood sugar alarms at the levels the user selects.

It is by no means an artificial pancreas or even a closed loop system (user input is still needed for insulin boluses and basal rate changes as with regular pump therapy) but the system is a huge improvement over the traditional finger stick-only testing. You can imagine how much easier it is to identify patterns and adjust insulin levels accordingly when you are effectively testing and recording glucose levels 12 times/hour around the clock. The sensor is good for around 6 days before it needs replacing.

BTW we oppose research that involves the destruction of embryos but as the poster from JDRF points out above there are many other promising areas of research -- including other kinds of stem cell therapy -- that we hope and pray will lead to an actual cure.

Good luck to you and your son!

RE: Continuous Glucose Montior
By othercents on 6/29/2007 5:05:27 PM , Rating: 2
Juvenile diabetes is definitly a bad disease. My friend Jeff has juvenile diabetes and he has gotten control of his sugar levels over the past 6 months by using a liquid nutritional suppliment even though he still eats badly. However he will always have to watch is sugar levels because good nutrition isn't going to fix the cause of the problem. Groups like JDRF should be commended more for the work they do.


FYI. I can get you in touch with Jeff if you would like to know more on what has helped him.

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