1.6 million, that’s how many people researchers say suffer from Type 1 diabetes.
“Insulin shots, so far, has been the only treatment at port for these individuals, even though it’s not perfect,” says Dr. Haval Shirwan.
And it’s especially not perfect, they say, for brittle diabetics, those suffering from a more severe form of diabetes
But husband and wife duo, University of Missouri School of Medicine Researchers Dr. Haval Shirwan and Dr. Esma Yolcu say they’re looking to change that.
“We could take the pancreas from a deceased individual, prepare those cells, what we call islets that make insulin, and those islets can be infused into an individual who suffers from this brittle diabetes.”
But this treatment still needs work. Shirwan says transplant patients need to take lifelong medicine to control rejection.
But these drugs aren’t always effective. And there can be major side effects.
So Shirwan says for the last 20 years they’ve been trying to research an approach that could trick the immune system to recognize the life-saving cells as something not harmful, but rather helpful.
“These two proteins, we simply use them as a tool to deliver two different signals to the immune system, to tell immune system that this is something useful.”
“My dream is that before I leave research, to see that this patient population, they are getting a safe treatment, and treatment that is available to everyone, whether financially they are capable to have it or not,” says Dr. Esma Yolcu