I recently did an interview for a diabetes magazine (yes, another magazine – we’re getting really big now in diabetes celebrity circles; such as they are). And I was asked what single development would make life easier for me as a member of the pancreatically-challenged hoard.
I did think about a new pancreas grown from stem cells, but I just don’t think science is advanced enough to come up with a proper cure for diabetes in my lifetime (or what I expect my lifetime to be – obviously even I don’t know how long I’m going to live). When you think about it, science has had 90-odd years since Banting & Best successfully stopped killing dogs and discovered insulin to come up with a complete cure. Although there have been leaps and bounds forward since then, science hasn’t even yet managed to come up with a long acting insulin that actually delivers consistently and smoothly for a full 24 hours (yes, we’re talking about you lantus). So I’m afraid that I think cures are still a long way off.
So I side-stepped the question by answering that incremental improvements to existing systems actually make life a lot easier for people with wonky pancreases. Take for example blood glucose meters. I’m a huge fan of Abbott’s FreeStyle Lite as it uses a tiny sample, is stupidly quick to process your result and is just generally well designed and thought out.
When you compare this to the medieval instruments of torture that were used not that long ago for measuring BG you can see that the world has moved on enormously and checking your BG is now ludicrously easy and relatively pain free. Given that a Good Diabetic will check their BG 4, 5 or 6 (or more) times a day such seemingly small changes to meters make a huge difference to the quality of our lives.
Similarly, faster acting insulins would be hugely beneficial. Humalog is pretty good stuff, but I still have to stick it in about 20 minutes before breakfast to avoid a massive post-port and pheasant peak (there’s nothing like a good, well-matured roast pheasant and a flagon of port for a good start to the day. The sort of breakfast empires were built upon, God be my witness!).
Anyway, so that’s what I’m hoping for the future – not a cure – but lots of little incremental improvements. Each one might not be wildly noticeable by itself, but cumulatively they’ll make a huge difference to our everyday, mundane, shuffling lives.