Prolong the Diabetes Honeymoon
HOUSTON (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the cells that produce insulin. Without these cells, diabetics have to take shots to control their blood sugar. Over time, the ups and downs can affect many organs in the body. Now doctors hope a drug can prevent those highs and lows.
Dawn Porter vividly remembers the day her daughter Caitlin was diagnosed with diabetes. “All you could think about is this precious child of yours and how you have to help them,” Dawn tells Ivanhoe.
Desperate, she scoured the Internet for information -- “Anything and everything that I thought might be an avenue to help her,” Dawn says. She found neurologist Staley Brod, M.D., and a study to see if alpha interferon can keep diabetes in its "honeymoon phase."
“At the end of that honeymoon, the individual with the disease has lost the ability to make insulin and therefore needs to inject total replacement of insulin,” says Dr. Brod, of University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.
Prolonging the honeymoon has numerous benefits. Dr. Brod says, “Some residual beta cell function is critical in avoiding a lot of the long-term complications of diabetes.”
For Caitlin, diabetes management has meant not only blood sugar checks but a daily drink, too. And while she doesn’t know if it’s the drug or a placebo, something seems to be working. “I talked to friends, and they’re using 40 to 60 units a day as their average amount of insulin, and I’m only using maybe 20, 19 or 20 units,” she says.
And as for the honeymoon phase that usually lasts around four months? Caitlin is going on three years. Her mom says, “Maybe it is helping her, and maybe it will in turn help many others.”
Dr. Brod says his ultimate goal is for people known to be at high-risk of diabetes to take the drug and prevent the condition from even developing. The study is taking place at centers in Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minn., and Bethesda, Md. Study participants have to have been diagnosed within six weeks and be taking insulin.
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University of Texas Health Center at Houston