A Cure for Diabetes in Our Lifetime...?

First the bad news: there’s been a sharp rise in diabetes in the last year and 3.2 million are now living with the disease in the UK. But there’s good news too: doctors—always a cautious breed—are increasingly talking about the possibility of eradicating, reversing or preventing it entirely. One expert claimed recently that there would be a cure within 25 years. Here are some of the most promising developments...

The Vaccine

About 300,000 people with diabetes have Type 1, an auto-immune disease in which the body doesn’t produce insulin. In a bid to allow people with diabetes to go for longer before having to start injecting insulin, scientists are working on a vaccine to modify the immune system. The eventual aim is that children and young people (most people develop Type 1 before 40) never develop diabetes in the first place. 

 

An Artificial pancreas

There’s a lot of excitement about an “artificial pancreas” being developed by Cambridge researchers for people with Type 1. The implantable device monitors blood glucose from minute to minute and delivers just the right amount of insulin. This gets round the problem of insulin needs fluctuating throughout the day.

 

Very low-calorie diet 

Researchers in Newcastle and Glasgow are testing a low-cal liquid diet as a possible way of reversing Type 2 diabetes (the type that’s linked to an unhealthy lifestyle). After between eight and
20 weeks of drinking nutritionally balanced shakes containing only 800 calories a day to lose weight, the guinea pigs go onto a personalised support programme to help keep the pounds off. They will then be monitored for two years to see whether their diabetes goes into long-term remission.

A previous small study found that eight weeks on the liquid diet worked for all 11 participants.

Shop: Diabetes: Practical Guide To Managing Your Health, £10.99