Health Watch - Diabetes: Saving Cells

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about research into treating or even curing type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are destroyed by an autoimmune process. Slowing this process could slow the development of the disease.

Diabetes is one of many autoimmune disorders in which the body attacks and destroys its own cells. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found that a drug used to treat other autoimmune disorders can help slow the destruction of insulin-producing cells when it’s given to patients recently diagnosed with diabetes.

Dr. Philip Raskin, a UT Southwestern diabetes researcher, says this isn’t a cure because the pancreas is usually already badly damaged by the time diabetes is diagnosed. But recently diagnosed patients who took the drug needed less insulin and were better able to control their blood sugar, which shows that slowing the autoimmune process may help improve functioning in the early stages of the disease.

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February 2011


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