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Health-e News: Diabetes Moves Up The Killer Charts

Health-e News: Diabetes moves up the Killer Charts

Health-e News: Diabetes moves up the Killer Charts

Women are the most vulnerable to diseases that thrive when a person is too fat. But “fat shaming” individuals won’t help when junk food is cheaper than healthy food and health education is virtually non-existent.
The new killer in town preys on older, overweight women from poor communities. It has been moving stealthily through the population, its influence under-estimated as our attention has been focused on HIV and tuberculosis.
But suddenly diabetes has emerged as the biggest killer of South African women and the second biggest killer overall, according to 2015 death statistics released recently by Statistics South Africa.
Seven years before this, diabetes was not even in the Top 10 killers. But now it is second only to TB.
Clinics are being overwhelmed by cases of diabetes and hypertension, both linked to bad diet and being too fat. By late last year, public health facilities were seeing more than 15,000 new cases of diabetes and close to 25,000 new hypertension cases every month, according to the health department’s District Health Information System (DHIS).
There are now over eight-million obese people in South Africa, far outnumbering the six-million South Africans living with HIV.
Many people on antiretroviral (ARV) medicine are also on medication for diabetes and hypertension, yet not enough research has been done on how all the medication interacts.
At one Cape Town clinic, three-quarters of the ARV patients were also on hypertension medicine, according to Professor Tolu Oni from the University of Cape Town.
KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo have the highest diabe Continue reading

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How to Click Into Online Support for a Chronic Condition

How to Click Into Online Support for a Chronic Condition

Allison Caggia, 41, felt her type 1 diabetes was well-controlled through dietary changes and daily blood sugar checks, but she wanted to take the next step by exercising in a way that was safe for her medical condition.
Not surprisingly, the Internet was packed full of advice, but she skipped the standard Google search and went instead to a source she knew she could trust: her online community.
Within a day, she had personal stories about diabetes and working out from her online friends, comparisons of cardio versus strength training, and extremely valuable tips about blood sugar management before and after workouts.
Finding your people
Even if you never meet community members online, that feeling of someone having your back and knowing what you’re going through is exactly the same in cyberspace as it is in real life, Caggia believes.
“These are people fighting the same thing that you are,” she says. “They’re there for you, and it makes a huge difference.”
Although a social network like Facebook might be helpful for informing friends and family of your treatment progress, it’s condition-specific sites that can be especially helpful for building a strong base of support, says Caggia.
These include sites like Inspire.com, healtheo360, and HealingWell.com. Many associations also run online communities, such as those managed by the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.
Caggia found her online community about four years ago, when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. No one among her family or friends had the condition and despite doin Continue reading

Could Gene Therapy One Day Cure Diabetes?

Could Gene Therapy One Day Cure Diabetes?

In type 1 diabetes, the body engages in warfare with itself, the immune system mistakenly treating the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas as a harmful invader, destroying the cells along with the body’s ability to regulate sugar. Typically diagnosed in youth, it has no cure, and patients face a lifetime of insulin injections and complications.
A new study published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell demonstrates an early look how one day gene therapy might be used to permanently restore normal blood glucose levels in people with type 1 diabetes.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas by what are known as beta cells, and it plays an important role in the body by promoting the absorption of glucose from the blood stream in order regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In the average person, these insulin-producing beta cells make up the vast majority of cells in the regions of the pancreas where hormones are produced and then secreted into the body’s blood stream. The other major cell type here is called an alpha cell, which produces a hormone glucagon that elevates glucose levels in the body.
In type 1 diabetes, for still unclear reasons, the body destroys beta cells, but alpha cells survive. So researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh sought to transform alpha cells into insulin-producing beta cells in mice with type 1 diabetes.
The scientists behind it didn’t expect it to work, but they gave it a shot anyway.
“Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the bo Continue reading

High-profile claim for potential diabetes cure refuted by UC Davis paper

High-profile claim for potential diabetes cure refuted by UC Davis paper

UC Davis study discredits paper’s claims of simple path to diabetes cure
A key tenet in the scientific method is showing that an experiment, holding all other variables equal, will yield the same result every time. Any paper published in a peer-reviewed journal will come under scrutiny from the scientific community, even more so if the article comes from a world-renowned publication like Cell.
When Cell first published an article in January stating that a commonly available treatment for malaria could reverse the effects of Type 1 diabetes, Mark Huising, an associate professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, expressed a mixture of excitement and skepticism.
“My first reaction was ‘wow, this would be great if this was true’,” Huising said. “What this paper suggested you could do is that they could tap into a process that had been described by a couple of different labs, ours included, where alpha cells in the pancreas can turn into beta cells.”
Diabetes is a disease in which the body cannot produce insulin, the hormone that signals the body to uptake sugar from the bloodstream. Insulin is produced in the pancreas by beta cells. In the case of Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks beta cells, so the body can no longer regulate blood sugar levels. The challenge in restoring beta cell mass is that they are difficult to grow in lab, so researchers have attempted, instead, to convert alpha cells, the counterpart to beta cells and unaffected by diabetes, to beta cells.
The Cell paper, published by a consortium of European and American Continue reading

ViaCyte tries again with potential diabetes cure

ViaCyte tries again with potential diabetes cure

After receiving an additional $20 million funding, San Diego’s ViaCyte is testing a new version of its stem cell-based diabetes therapy.
With the funding from California’s stem cell agency, or CIRM, ViaCyte plans to get strong evidence within about 18 months to determine whether its implant can restore an internally generated supply of insulin to diabetics. That would produce what ViaCyte calls a functional cure for the disease.
The first version of the implant showed mixed results in early human testing, said Paul Laikind, president and chief executive. The second version is designed to better support the insulin-generating cells that substitute for those destroyed in type 1 diabetes.
The grant was awarded Sept. 28, bringing ViaCyte’s total from CIRM to more than $51 million. Previous grants were for research and development. The new grant is exclusively for clinical testing.
Earlier this month, Laikind discussed plans for privately held ViaCyte at the Cell & Gene Meeting on the Mesa in La Jolla.
ViaCyte has to solve two major problems, Laikind said. One is to produce cells that generate insulin and survive in the body for an extended time. The second is to keep the body’s immune system from destroying the cells, derived from human embryonic stem cells.
The first version, called PEC-Encap, addressed the problem by shielding the cells inside a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane keeps immune cells out, but allowing nutrients to flow in and insulin to flow out.
In some of those tested, the device produced the hoped-for results. When the implants were removed for ex Continue reading

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