When Will They Find a Cure for Diabetes?

Theresa answers question about diabetes research efforts.

Theresa Garnero By Theresa Garnero, APRN, BC-ADM, MSN, CDE

Q. When will they find a cure for diabetes?

A. If only I could give you a timeline, but that would just be a guess. People who have had diabetes for many years have told me that when they were initially diagnosed they were told, "a cure is on the horizon" or "within 5 years, a cure will be found." Decades later, these same individuals are living with diabetes and doing their best to manage the disease given the latest research findings and scientific advancement. Let's take this opportunity to review diabetes research in a broad sense, as well as highlight some specific research efforts underway.

Research Defined:

The Oxford dictionary provides a technical definition, "The systematic investigation into and study of materials, sources, etc., in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions." The succinct definition comes from my graduate professor, Dr. Teresa Juarbe who explained, "Research is to look again." That clear definition explains why researchers look at a particular topic more than once to see if the findings will demonstrate a consistency of results.

Imagine life without antibiotics, diabetes pills, or blood glucose monitoring devices. Perhaps some of you witnessed these "new" therapies unfold—they are relative newcomers to the healthcare venue. If it were not for the research from Frederick Banting and Charles Best, we would not have insulin. Prior to the early 1920s, people with type 1 diabetes "lived" (if you want to call it that) for about a year. Without insulin, anyone with type 1 diabetes would essentially waste away and starve to death. The myths of insulin therapy run rampant, yet, it is a life saver, giving people the ability to control diabetes. Insulin is not the problem (nor is it a cure). As research has shown time and time again, high glucose levels (hyperglycemia) are the problem. It is difficult not to read about all of the complications of hyperglycemia when picking up a diabetes journal or an article about diabetes in the local paper.

Other research findings show:

Instructing sedentary women to walk 10,000 steps per day is more effective at increasing exercise per day than is asking them to walk 30 minutes on most days of the week.

Treating sleep apnea lowers glucose levels.

Lower A1C/EAG levels are seen more typically when seeking help from a specialist as opposed to a primary care physician.

Laughing lowers glucose.

If you would like to be a research volunteer:

Simply type in "diabetes research opportunities" in your web browser. I found ample opportunities from the Joslin Diabetes Center, the American Diabetes Association (ADA), and the National Institute for Health (NIH). The NIH has more than 47,000 research locations across the U.S. and the ADA has a research database so you can find research opportunities in your state. I recently heard of a nationwide search for volunteers in the GALLANT 5 clinical study (Glucose and Lipid Levels in diabetes using Tesaglitazar). If you are interested in more information about that study, call 1-800-275-2617.

You do not have to have diabetes to get involved with research. Many studies look for people without diabetes, or you can donate to research to help the scientists find a cure.

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Last Modified Date: May 08, 2013

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