A cure is ten years away

By | 12 February, 2016
Yup, still stuck with insulin

Yup, still stuck with insulin

It’s a favourite mantra here at your soaraway Shoot Up that a cure for diabetes is always ten years away.

While spooning down our cornflakes over the morning paper, we see endless headlines like “Pill cure for diabetes sufferers” and “Stem cell research to bring end to diabetes” and “Cinnamon cure for diabetic fatties”, etc., etc.

However, a quick skim through these articles tends to reveal that the cure – whatever it might be – has only been effected on lab rats and might – that’s the key word, might – be available to humans in “about ten years’ time”.

So, using the power of Google News’s date restricted searches, I travelled back through time to the halcyon and heady days of 2006 to have a look at news articles from exactly ten years ago and see whether they delivered. Or not.

Firstly, from the New Scientist on 15 December 2006 comesBreakthrough sheds light on cause of diabetes”. Apparently sensory nerves of the pancreas could be zapped to prevent diabetes. “It turns out if you remove these specific sensory nerves, the animals don’t get diabetes,” says an over-excited researcher “It was stunning…a single injection could keep the disease at bay for years”.

So, here we all are, diabetes free and with no new cases of type one or type two reported in the last ten years. Nice work Mr Scientist.

A diabetes-free pig, yesterday

A diabetes-free pig, yesterday

Next comes Pig cells ‘may reverse diabetes‘” reported by the BBC on 20 February 2006, which brilliantly (for the purposes of this article, at least) leads with “Transplants of insulin-producing cells from pigs could provide a diabetes cure within a decade, scientists say.”

Apparently another over-excited researcher suggested if clinical trials in humans began within three years, and everything went to plan, the procedure could be used more widely in humans within a decade.

Needless to say clinical trials didn’t start within three years and the procedure wasn’t used in humans within a decade. Oh well.

From the sublime we next come to “Managing Diabetes Naturally With Nutmeg – New Research” reported via the ever-respectable PR Newswire on 05 September 2006, which noted that it may soon be possible to “manage the serious condition of diabetes naturally using nutmeg seeds according to new research presented today at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester.”

Needless to say, this didn’t happen. I don’t even like nutmeg.

The BBC then enthusiastically reported “Cell transplant may cure diabetes” on 18 January 2006, which starts by noting “Trials of a new treatment for diabetes could lead to a cure for the disease within 10 years” and gives dollops of false hope by proclaiming that the new treatment may end the need for patients to have pancreas transplants or daily insulin jabs.” Of course, “the research team hopes its trials, in adult patients with type 1 diabetes, will lead within the next five to 10 years to the perfecting of a simple operation that can reverse the condition in both children and adults.”

Whelp, I don’t know about you but I’m still manually stuffing myself with insulin daily. But as we’ve established, I’d be the last to hear about a cure.

Norfolk, popular with inbreeders, apparently

Norfolk, popular with inbreeders. Apparently

And finally, it’s nothing to do with cures – potential or otherwise – but I liked this story from the BBC reported on 11 August 2006 “MP sorry for ‘inbreeding’ remarks” in which a Labour MP apologised after saying inbreeding may be partly to blame for a rise in cases of diabetes in his Norfolk ;

2 thoughts on “A cure is ten years away

  1. Brian

    I went to a conference thirty years ago and the researcher was curing within the said 10 years; using alginate (seaweedy stuff), to encapsulate the beta cells to protect them from being attacked by the immune system.

    Last week I read this http://www.gizmag.com/encapsulated-pancreatic-cells-diabetes-no-injections/41520/
    To be fair they have moved forward, they have added refinements to the alginate.

    Seriously, as the father of your much superior co-presenter, I can tell you that things have moved on in giant strides. Thirty years ago glucose testing was done by dropping 5 drops of urine onto a tablet in a test tube – all it measured was if you had exceeded the renal threshold at some time since you last had a pee – now all I have to do is ask Alison what her reading is and she tells me – brilliant what 30 years and a sensor can do.

    Good to have you back.


    1. Tim Post author

      I agree Brian – the incremental changes are something that’s happening and do make a real difference to our quality of life. I burbled on about this here: http://www.shootuporputup.co.uk/2009/11/diabetes-inventions/ and the comments section on that article are quite (ish) interesting.

      We are making progress – but it’s the overblown promises that irritate me.

      And what’s all this stuff about “much superior co-presenter”?!!


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