A Diabetic Talks: Technology Saving Lives

Very often diabetics are told one day there will be a cure. It’s something that seems so outlandish but technology has been on the rise and it is bringing more hope than ever. 

I often try to read up on breakthroughs and news in the type 1 world and it has been very hard to not get my hopes up as more and more research surfaces. 

The first is a new form of insulin called Icodec that could work for over a week. 

For a background, there are two separate insulins that I take during my day. One of them is a long-acting form I take twice a day. I take it when I wake up and in the evening. 

It is a background insulin that works very slowly throughout the day but keeps me stable. This new insulin that was introduced has been in trial for three years. It works the same as the one I take twice a day but would only be injected once a week. This new drug has brought down blood glucose averages and, over time, could improve people’s hemoglobin A1C. 

The main difference it would have in my life is fewer injections. Instead of 730 injections over the course of one year, I would only need 52. This would also help because it would lessen the odds of me forgetting to take the medicine and would be one less thing to worry about. 

The other breakthrough could be monumental. Stem cell research is being conducted and it could result in potential elimination of insulin dosing in general. 

Given via an infusion, VX-880 are cell derived insulin producing cells that could change a diabetic’s life.

The infusion would put these cells into the patient’s body and then, over the course of a couple of weeks, they would multiply and produce insulin. This would dramatically decrease both high and low blood sugars and tremendously decrease the amount of work diabetics go through to keep blood glucose in range. It could essentially make the disease invisible and would be as if our pancreas worked like normal. 

So far, six people have been treated with VX-880 and they have all met the recommended blood glucose levels within three months of taking it. It has also eliminated severe low blood sugars. 

“The impact … was truly life-changing,” said study author Dr. Trevor Reichman, surgical director of the Pancreas and Islet Transplant Program at University Health Network’s Ajmera Transplant Center in Toronto, Canada. “All of these patients had long-standing, difficult-to-manage type 1 diabetes with life-threatening complications, which included severe hypoglycemic unawareness.”

Hypoglycemia unawareness means a person can’t tell when their blood glucose gets low, so they don’t know they need to treat it. 

As of now, there are no negative side effects of this new treatment. It is also not known how long this treatment will be effective and the longest patient to have it is at two years of insulin independence. 

If these two breakthroughs are able to make it out of testing and are open to the public, life with diabetes will be a whole new world. Although a lot of diabetics have gone their whole life with this disease and I have only had it for three and a half years, I can’t help but feel the need to have these treatments.

I can’t remember what it was like to wake up and not inject insulin first thing in the morning. I also can’t remember what it was like to not count carbs and dial up my insulin every single time I want to have a bite to eat. 

These breakthroughs could completely change my life and bring it back to its normal, more simple ways. 

It also brings hope that maybe, one day, there could be a cure or that this stem cell research is the cure and it is just right around the corner. 

Write to Luke Jackson at luke.jackson.2@mnsu.edu

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