Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Still Around- Like Hope

At UCLA, Peter Butler has been looking for things that aren't supposed to be there and finding them. Dr. Butler is an endocrinologist who studies abnormal insulin secretion in patients with diabetes.

When your child has type-1 diabetes, an autoimmune response causes her body's defense systems to mistakenly attack and destroy the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Conventional wisdom has it that after a certain amount of time, the immune response kills all the pancreatic beta cells and that the process is irreversible.

Dr. Butler found that this isn't the case at all. He found that certain people even after decades of the disease still have some surviving cells that make insulin (see chart below). Building on these findings, his work now focuses on the potential for regeneration of these beta cells in diabetics to allow normal insulin regulation.

So, like me, you may have thought that all the beta cells in your child were gone. And that you had no hope for a cure. But just like Dr. Butler's beta cells, it seems like hope was always there (it just hides sometimes).

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