I Hope This Is True – Diabetes Cure

Don’t bother reading the boxed text unless you’re a physician. Even then you might skip it. It’s from the journal “Cell.”

In type 1 diabetes, T cell-mediated death of pancreatic β cells produces insulin deficiency. However, what attracts or restricts broadly autoreactive lymphocyte pools to the pancreas remains unclear. We report that TRPV1+ pancreatic sensory neurons control islet inflammation and insulin resistance. Eliminating these neurons in diabetes-prone NOD mice prevents insulitis and diabetes, despite systemic persistence of pathogenic T cell pools. Insulin resistance and β cell stress of prediabetic NOD mice are prevented when TRPV1+ neurons are eliminated. TRPV1NOD, localized to the Idd4.1 diabetes-risk locus, is a hypofunctional mutant, mediating depressed neurogenic inflammation. Delivering the neuropeptide substance P by intra-arterial injection into the NOD pancreas reverses abnormal insulin resistance, insulitis, and diabetes for weeks. Concordantly, insulin sensitivity is enhanced in trpv1−/− mice, whereas insulitis/diabetes-resistant NODxB6Idd4-congenic mice, carrying wild-type TRPV1, show restored TRPV1 function and insulin sensitivity. Our data uncover a fundamental role for insulin-responsive TRPV1+ sensory neurons in β cell function and diabetes pathoetiology.

What that exercise in ‘academic speak’ says is, Canadian scientists might have found a cure for diabetes. If true, this is amazing news.

In a more human friendly article from Canada’s National Post:

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

Operative words: “healthy overnight.” For families of diabetics, that little phrase is the answer to years of prayers.

You probably know I’m involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I am touched by the stories of the families affected by diabetes. It’s no less tragic when it’s Type 2, or adult onset diabetes.

Children with diabetes have a life span more than ten years shorter than non-diabetic kids. And then there’s the daily trouble and worries that come with being diabetic.

Each year I say, “I hope this is my last JDRF Walk.” Maybe I’ve already walked it!

I sent the article and a brief note to Mary Kessler, who runs the local JDRF chapter.

We are all very excited-thanks for sending it on to me.

Try not to get too excited about it yet, we have had these miracles before and they did not translate to humans-but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

She’s right. Some exciting progress, using stem cell research, fizzled only a few months ago. What looked very good at the outset was just an empty promise.

Still, if there’s going to be a cure, it’s likely to start with an announcement like this one. My fingers are crossed.

My Charitable Weekend

Helaine and I went to New Haven for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation gala last night. Helaine looked spectacular – slinky in her black dress. I wore in a tuxedo, meaning I was dressed like the waiters.

I have been told $400,000 was raised last night. That’s a lot of money for a very worthy cause.

As is so often the case at events like this, there was a silent auction first. Hundreds of team from sports memorabilia to artwork to food to eclectic one-of-a-kind articles were up for grabs.

We bid on… actually outbid Mike Laptino from WPLR… for a dumpster rental. Say what you will, but having the dumpster for a week or two while you clean the house in wholesale fashion is a helluva good deal.

The evening went well. Mary Kessler, who runs the local JDRF chapter, looked on edge all evening – but if she was waiting for something bad to happen, she had to be disappointed. It was smooth as can be.

I had one awkward moment. One of the auction items was a trip to Chicago to see Oprah. Later, I said it was a misprint. It was actually a trip to Chicago to eat Okra.


David Letterman proved, and I have now confirmed, Oprah’s name doesn’t work in humor. I mean really, really silent… really.

We got home around 11:00, which was good because we were starting early this morning. That’s not to say I went to bed at 11:00, but at least I was a little earlier than usual – around 3:00 AM.

Helaine woke me at 8:15 AM. A friend of Helaine’s had invited us to Brooksvale Park in Hamden for a walk in support of Autistic children.

Like diabetes, autism doesn’t stop with just the person who is autistic. The entire family is brought in, because care is a family affair. And, like diabetes, you’ve got to hope research will bring us closer to understanding, treating and preventing.

I am always struck by the strength and commitment of those thrust into this situation. No one has a child with the thought that child will need a lifetime of special care. You play the hand you’re dealt.

I’m sure it happens, but I’ve never seen anyone in this situation say “why me,” or approach life in a grudging way.

Weather conditions were perfect and everyone was in a good mood. There were lots of families and lots of dogs – including one dressed as Elvis.

Don’t ask. I have no idea why.

Along with all the partying was a demonstration of radio controlled planes and helicopters. These copters are amazing little devices. I watched one loop upside down and fly with its nose pointed straight up.

The guy in charge told me any of these model fliers could pilot a real helicopter, though a copter pilot would surely crash the model!

The culmination of the morning was a walk from Brooksvale up the ‘linear park’ into Cheshire. Again, it’s great to watch all these families sharing the day and working for a good cause.

For Helaine and me, a busy weekend – but very rewarding… and don’t forget the dumpster!