Most people know at least one person with diabetes. In type 1 the sufferer’s pancreas stops producing insulin, causing blood sugar levels to rise as the regulatory effect of insulin does not occur. This can be fatal if left untreated.
Having this condition can make life very difficult, as you have to constantly measure your blood sugar levels and control what you eat. You can’t just have a chocolate bar whenever you feel like it. You also must inject daily insulin that can cause discomfort. And this is on top of the many potential complications such as blindness and stroke.
But don’t worry type 1 diabetes sufferers, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Diabetes UK, with help from JDRF and Tesco, is going to invest £4.4 million into type 1 diabetes research. This will consist of four studies which have great potential to find a vaccine that could delay the onset of the disease, or even cure it. Thus reducing the difficulties that the sufferers face whilst also lowering the risk of associated illnesses. Diabetes UK’s director of research, Dr Alasdair Rankin, said: “This research is hugely exciting because it has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living with type 1 diabetes, as well as leading us towards a longed-for cure.”
The first study, for example, will take place at King’s College London. Here, for the first time, a prototype vaccine will be administered to children and teenagers with type 1 diabetes. This could happen as early as this year.
However, this project isn’t our only hope. Lots of other research into diabetes is being carried out. Recently it was found that harmine, which is a plant derivative that has been seen to have psychedelic effects similar to drugs such as LSD, may help us find a cure. The plant can regenerate the pancreatic cells that are destroyed in those with type 1 diabetes.
Although it may be a few years before the lives of sufferers are made easier, the current research already shows huge potential. Things can only go up from here as technology improves and we further our understanding of the condition following trials such as these.