• Question: Do you believe that diabetes can be cured? (I do!)

    Asked by Kristein to Jonathan, Kellie, Kevin, Melissa on 4 May 2016.
    • Photo: Melissa Wilson Sayres

      Melissa Wilson Sayres answered on 4 May 2016:

      A cure versus a life-long management is a really tricky thing. A peptide from Gila monster saliva is being used in medications that work extremely well for long-term management of Type-II diabetes. But, fundamentally both Type-I and Type-II are caused by atypical function in the pancreas, so curing the disease completely (e.g., not needing medication) may require something more drastic. I don’t know what that is, but with the ability to 3-D print organs, and the ability to insert/replace faulty alleles, it is possible that in our lifespans we could take out stem cells from a person, fix any faulty alleles (if we know which ones are leading to the atypical pancreas function), then use those cells to grow a functioning pancreas for replacement into someone’s body.

      Now that would be rad.

    • Photo: Jonathan Jackson

      Jonathan Jackson answered on 4 May 2016:

      It turns out that a lot of scientists are working on exactly this issue! It is possible to treat diabetes right now, and there are some really promising treatments with stem cells on the horizon. I think it will be possible to cure diabetes, but it will take a much deeper understanding of how our body metabolism works. A cure should be possible, but it’ll be a little while.

    • Photo: Kellie Jaremko

      Kellie Jaremko answered on 4 May 2016:

      Hi Kristein

      I think a cure is possible too but it may be awhile before we get it right and can get it to everyone who needs it. Melissa mentioned some of the cool work going on now. There is a 3 part “artificial pancreas” undergoing safety studies now. http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/2016-to-bring-two-new-artificial-pancreas-trials/ It has a glucose monitor, insulin and uses a complicated computer algorithm (equation) to figure out what the body needs. Currently the work has been done in pigs and it will take time and a lot of money but this implantable device may help millions if it works out.

    • Photo: Kevin Baker

      Kevin Baker answered on 4 May 2016:

      Hey Kristein,

      I am a little late to respond and the other scientists had amazing answers! I think it will be curable; whether it is brought on by environmental factors or genetic ones.