Stories tagged diabetes


Hookworms in the lining of the intestines: All together now: "ewwwwwwwwwwww."
Hookworms in the lining of the intestines: All together now: "ewwwwwwwwwwww."Courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cleanliness is next to godliness, but is it possible to have too much of a good thing? For several decades, immunological diseases -- such as hay fever, asthma, diabetes and multiple sclerosis – have been increasing in developed countries, but are uncommon in many undeveloped regions. Medical researcher Joel Weinstock theorizes that modern life is too clean – by scrupulously avoiding dirt, bugs and germs, our immune systems don’t develop properly, leading to the diseases listed above. Weinstock goes so far as to speculate that exposure to hookworm, pinworm, and other intestinal parasites may have been the trigger necessary for developing a healthy immune system. As these parasites have been eradicated, immunological diseases have skyrocketed.

The theory is currently being tested in the lab. Weinstock doesn’t advocate the return of worm infestations. But he does think that getting your hands dirty once in a while can help keep your body in balance.

A new pill to fight diabetes is going into clinical trials with human subjects. The pill targets a gene linked to aging, and could lead to advances in longevity.


Alzheimer's disease, often called "old timers disease" effects about 1 in 5 people over age 80. Called dementia, the symptoms include problems with memory, thinking, behavior, and emotion.

Alzheimer's similar to diabetes

Researchers at Northwestern University think that the mechanism of Alzheimer's involves insulin receptors in brain cells. In the brain, insulin and insulin receptors are vital to learning and memory.

A toxic protein found in the brains of individuals with Alzheimer's removes insulin receptors from nerve cells, rendering those neurons insulin resistant.
The protein, known to attack memory-forming synapses, is called an ADDL for "amyloid ß-derived diffusible ligand." Science Daily

William L. Klein, professor of neurobiology and physiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, said he believes the findings are a major factor in the memory deficiencies caused by ADDLs in Alzheimer's brains and reveals a fundamental new connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease. This offers hope for therapeutics. Finding ways to make those insulin receptors themselves resistant to the impact of ADDLs. might not be so difficult.

Early detection of Alzheimer's Disease

Klein not only helped identify the bio-marker, ADDL, but also helped develop a technique to detect it in patients with early stage Alzheimer's using bio-bar-code amplification technology.

To detect ADDLs, a magnetic microparticle and a gold nanoparticle are each outfitted with an antibody specific to the ADDL antigen. When in solution, the antibodies “recognize” and bind to the ADDL, sandwiching the protein between the two particles. Fienberg School of Medicine

After the “particle-ADDL-particle” sandwich is removed magnetically from solution, the bar-code DNA is removed from the sandwich and read using standard DNA detection methodologies. The researchers next would like to develop the technology so that the test could be done using a blood or urine sample instead of cerebrospinal fluid, which is more difficult to obtain.


Americans with diabetes nears 21 million and is growing 5% per year.

One out of every eight U.S. federal health care dollars is spent treating people with diabetes. A report by Medco Health Solutions Inc. issued last month found that the growing diabetes epidemic and more aggressive treatment could result in soaring costs to treat the disease over the next three years.

An analysis of Medco's 2007 Drug Trend Report found that, by 2009, spending just on medicines to treat diabetes could soar 60 percent to 68 percent from 2006 levels. The sales of diabetes drugs in the United States reached $9.88 billion in 2005, according to data from IMS Health Inc. Yahoo News

Diabetes is deadly.

Over the next 30 years, diabetes is expected to claim the lives of 62 million Americans. Uncontrolled diabetes can result in heart disease, stroke, vision loss, amputation of extremities and kidney disease.

Obesity blamed.

Using data from an ongoing federal health survey of U.S. adults, researchers found that, on average, obese 18-year-old men had a 50.1-percent lifetime risk of developing diabetes, while obese women had a 57.3-percent risk. Diabetes Care, June 2007.

Overweight? Do something.

If we are going to stem the growing burden of diabetes, we must improve our prevention efforts. You can start by reading about diabetes(World Health Organization fact sheet).


The Amazing Double Helix: Image courtesy the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH.
The Amazing Double Helix: Image courtesy the National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH.
Scientists analyzing DNA from the blood of 17,000 people to find genetic differences have found new genetic variants for such common ailments as Crohn’s disease, coronary heart disease, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and type 1 and 2 diabetes.

The findings, done under the auspices of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium study (WTCCC), a British organization, have been hailed as a new chapter in medical science supplying more new knowledge in the past 12 months than scientists have learned in the last 15 years.

"If you think of the genome as very long road that you are trying to find your way along in the dark, previously we have only been able to turn lights on in a small number of places, but now we can turn on lights in a large number of places - in this case half a million lights”, he said.

The findings, which were published recently in Nature, located a previously unknown gene common to Crohn's disease and type 1 diabetes, suggesting that they share similar biological pathways.

This hits home with my family since my youngest son suffers from Crohn’s disease , and one of my younger brothers has a son who developed Type 1 diabetes at age thirteen. And there’s also depression in our family. So it seems perhaps this means there’s a glitch somewhere in the family genome.

A team of 200 scientists studied hundreds of thousands of DNA markers by scanning “gene chips” to identify genetic differences across the whole genome. Surprisingly, they found that many of the genes identified were in areas of the genome not previously connected with disease.

What this all means is that people may be able to find out early on what sort of health issues to expect during their lifetimes.

"Our study should enable scientists to understand better how disease occurs, which people are most at risk and, in time, to produce more effective, more personalized treatments", professor Donnelly said.

It also means that hopefully even cures for some of the more serious diseases that plague mankind will eventually be found.


Wellcome Study on BioTech Weblog
BBC website story


Race: Are We So Different?
Race: Are We So Different?

The Science Museum has a new exhibit on race which explains, among other things, how "race" is not something biological in our bodies, but rather is invented by societies.

Well, it turns out that doctors are just as human as the rest of us. Doctors in a diabetes study labeled samples based on a patient's home or culture, rather than by any biological factors. And according to Dr. Michael Montoya of the University of California Irvine, this leads to problems:

"[R]esearch that presumes race is biological may confuse matters instead of improving our understanding of the causes of chronic diseases like diabetes. ...

"[L]ooking for genetic factors that influence diabetes in ethnic groups ignores the social factors like poverty and access to health care that have a much stronger correlation to the rates of diabetes among certain groups. And if we don’t understand that those groups are not biological, we will look for biological explanations for their disease rates when we should be looking for social ones.”

Jan 11,1922

Insulin is used for the first time to treat diabetes in a human being.
Frederick Banting, along with collaborator John James Richard Mcleod, was awarded the 1923 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.


Insulin pump: New hope for diabetics.
Insulin pump: New hope for diabetics.

Diabetes in 171 million (WHO)

My niece nearly died from diabetes complicactions just before Thanksgiving. Shortly after being diagnosed with child onset diabetes (type 1), she suffered toxic shock syndrome. Before eating her Thanksgiving meal she needed to get blood from her finger, measure her blood sugar, calculate the amount of insulin needed for the food she would eat, then inject the proper amount via a needle into her body.

At Christmas time I shared with her that perhaps within a few years, a cure for her diabetes would be available. In a breed of mice genetically predestined to develop diabetes, researchers discovered that

after just one injection of a neuropeptide called "substance P" the diabetes disappeared overnight and the mice remained diabetes-free for weeks, and even months in some

New model for diabetes cause (and cure)

This research is reported in the December 15 issue of the journal, Cell.
Scientists at a Toronto hospital found that malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas might be the cause of diabetes. This upsets conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes is caused by an auto-immune response.

“We started to look at nervous system elements that seemed to play a role in Type 1 diabetes and found that specific sensory neurons are critical for islet immune attack in the pancreas,” said Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, study principal investigator, senior scientist at SickKids and professor of Paediatrics and Immunology at the University of Toronto. “These nerves secrete insufficient neuropeptides which sustain normal islet function, creating a vicious circle of progressive islet stress.”

The researchers caution they have yet to confirm their findings in people, but say they expect results from human studies within a year or so. Any treatment that may emerge to help at least some patients would likely be years away from hitting the market. Post