Diabetes is a life-long disease that is on the increase around the world. It brings a myriad of complications to the lives of those with the disease and to their caregivers. The economic losses on both a personal and employment fronts are increasing as well.
News coming from research conducted at Harvard by Professor Douglas Melton has raised the hopes that diabetes will be cured. For many years, researchers had tried to transplant the cells that produce insulin into a diabetic person’s pancreas. The cells were quickly identified by the immune system and dispatched. Encapsulating the cells with a coating that allowed crucial materials in and out worked, but only for a short time. Scar tissue grew and blocked the tiny channels.
Professor Melton and his team have found a promising new way to coat the insulin producing cells. Taking material from brown algae(seaweed), they produced a substance that shields the transplanted cells from the immune system, yet allows the transport of vital materials.
Tests on mice are very promising. The transplanted cells produced insulin and they survived the length of the experiment --more than six months. The cells were injected into the body cavity of the mice.
While it is early days for this research, if it proves successful, the economic benefits will be staggering. In 2009 the American Diabetes Association published a breakdown of costs in their country due to diabetes. At that time there were 30 million people with the disease in the US. It was estimated that each of the sufferers was paying about $13, 700 a year in medical expenses.
When one disease is generating approximately USD 245 billion each year in one country, the effect on the medical industry will be significant. Currently one in eight health dollars in the US is consumed with diabetes care, both directly and on chronic conditions arising.
WHO estimated the global annual mortality from diabetes in 2008 to be 1.3 million. That figure was expected to rise. In 2008 lower limb amputations in developed countries were 10 times more prevalent in those with diabetes.
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The team of Carlos Bernal and Nancy Guerra have founded a company with their patented device.
The future looks bright for the eventual widespread marketing of the new testing device. Currently there are approximately 400 million people world wide who have diabetes and that number is increasing every year.
The University of Alberta ended a years long project to analyze the composition of urine. They concluded that there are at least 3000 metabolic compounds in our waste fluid. In the near future the taking of blood samples may be a thing of the past as new urine based tests are being developed.
Lead scientist, David Wishart, in the Alberta investigation is quoted below:
In particular, he notes that new urine-based diagnostic tests for colon cancer, prostate cancer, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and organ transplant rejection are already being developed or are about to enter the marketplace, thanks in part to this work.
Statins are drugs that are prescribed by physicians to lower or control cholesterol. They are powerful drugs and when needed can be life saving. But like any effective drug, they can have life threatening side effects.
It has been known for some time that statins may cause muscle wasting and death. Liver damage is rare, but is a recognized side effect. Some users report cognitive imparment. A study completed in 2013 linked statin use to type 2 diabetes. It reported that in the study statins raised the risk of type 2 diabetes by 22%.
A more recent study conducted in Finland looked at 8749 nondiabetic men and followed them for 5.9 years. When they examined them again they found that 625 had developed type 2 diabetes. This translates to a 46% increase in risk when taking statins.
Statins are big business. They have become the drug of choice for dealing with high cholesterol levels. By 2012 in the US 214 million monthly prescriptions were being written. As cheaper generic versions became available, physicians were even more ready to prescribe the drugs. In that year the world revenue for this group was $29 billion.
If you are taking statins and are experiencing uncomfortable side effects, you need to discuss your health with your physician. It is a bad idea to simply stop taking the medication. However it is important to assess your risk of life threatening side effects.
Diabetes, whether it is from a lack of ability to produce insulin(type 1) or an inability to properly utilize insulin(type 2) can be life changing. The recent Finnish study published in the journal Diabetologia noted that those on statins who developed diabetes produced less than normal amounts of the hormone as well as a reduced ability to use it to regulate blood sugar.
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