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A Possible Cure for Diabetes Ignored by Big Pharma

February 14, 2009 | 131,681 views

stem cells, adult stem cells, diabetes, type 1 diabetes, juvenile diabetesTwelve years ago, Professor Irving Weissman discovered a treatment that could have saved the lives of thousands of women with advanced breast cancer. Pharmaceutical companies weren’t interested in developing the therapy at the time.

Though interest in his methods are finally being ignited, Weissman regrets the wasted time. In a set of lectures, Weissman repeatedly expressed frustration that while many of his discoveries in the field of stem cell research seemed to hold remarkable potential for life-saving treatments, commercial or regulatory hurdles have prevented his scientific findings from benefiting patients.

One example is Weissman’s research on type I diabetes, in which he demonstrated the ability to fully cure type I diabetes in mice using stem cells. But even though his experiments avoided political controversy by using adult stem cells, which do not come from embryos, Weissman ran into a road block when pharmaceutical companies refused to sponsor clinical trials.

Weissman believes that the pharmaceutical companies put profit over principle, preferring to keep diabetes sufferers dependent on costly insulin than to cure them once and for all.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Type 1 diabetes, or insulin dependent diabetes, is a really sad chronic condition. This is in stark contrast to type 2, which is caused by insulin resistance and faulty leptin signaling, due to inappropriate diet and lack of exercise – an entirely preventable, and nearly 100 percent reversible condition through lifestyle modifications.

Type 1 diabetics, however, do not produce insulin and must therefore inject insulin several times a day. The disease tends to progress rather quickly and therefore needs to be diagnosed early, as it can result in serious long-term complications including blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

Tragically those with type 1 diabetes can have the healthiest lifestyle possible yet still suffer many diseases, as current technology is a poor substitute for a fully functioning pancreas. The sad thing about type 1 diabetes is that it now appears nearly completely preventable.  New research suggests if a pregnant woman has optimal vitamin D levels during her pregnancy and then maintains them in her baby once delivered, this should radically reduce if not virtually eliminate type 1 diabetes. 

Obviously finding out this information after a person has had their pancreatic islet cells destroyed and is insulin dependent doesn’t help much, but the good news is that within your lifetime we will have developed the ability to safely replace these cells, most likely with similar approaches to the one described in the article above. 

If this sounds farfetched, you should know that Dr. Weissman is not the only scientist to lay claim to the power of stem cells to cure type 1 diabetes.

In 2007 the British Times Online reported on the first clinical evidence for the efficacy of Hematopoietic stem cells (stem cells derived from bone marrow) in type 1 diabetes.   

The Brazilian study, published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that treatment-related toxicity was low, with zero mortality. All but two of the volunteers (93 percent) in the trial did not require daily insulin injections for up to three years after the end of their treatment, as the therapy allowed their bodies to start producing the hormone naturally again. 

The main drawback with the particular therapy used in that study, from my standpoint, is that drugs were used to first suppress the patients’ immune system before receiving transfusions of stem cells drawn from their own blood. Suppression of your immune system could lead to all types of health problems – after all, your immune system is your primary line of defense – however, the theory of using stem cells to reactivate natural insulin production is an intriguing and hopeful one.

Does Big Pharma Want to Find a Cure for Diabetes?

It certainly would not make financial sense, and I think it’s fairly safe to say that pharmaceutical companies are in business these days to make money – not to actually cure disease. So, when Dr. Weissman implies that he was unable to entice pharmaceutical sponsors because they prefer to keep diabetes sufferers dependent on costly insulin, he’s probably not far off.

There are numerous examples of well-educated, innovative doctors and scientists who have created alternative medical treatments that far supersede conventional drug treatments, and yet they are more frequently than not shunned, persecuted, or even prosecuted for their efforts.

At least Dr. Weissman did not suffer a fate similar to any of these doctors:  

  • Gaston Naessens – Dr. Naessens cancer treatment is based on the theory that cancer is caused by a friendly microorganism called somatids ("little bodies") -- which are present in all cells -- that becomes unfriendly. His formula, 714X, provides nitrogen to the cancer cells, thus causing this microorganism to cease excreting their toxic compounds, and mobilize your immune system to kill the cancer cells. He was subsequently put on trial for his cancer discoveries.
  •  Stanislaw Burzynski -- Dr. Burzynski, founder of the Houston-based Burzynski Institute, treats cancer patients with substances called antineoplastons. He was indicted by a grand jury in 1995 for his use of antineoplastons– his second trial that year. He was acquitted. 
  • Ryke Geerd Hamer – Dr. Hamer’s “German New Medicine” (GNM), operates under the premise that every disease originates from an unexpected shock experience, and that all disease can be cured by resolving these underlying emotional traumas. Despite a 95 percent success rate, Dr. Hamer has spent time in prison for refusing to disavow his medical findings and stop treating his patients with his unorthodox techniques, and is currently living in exile, seeking asylum from persecution. 

Adult Stem Cell Treatments are the Wave of the Future

I believe therapies using adult stem cells – as opposed to embryonic stem cells which are at the heart of the stem cell controversy – is and will continue to be a major, exciting part of the future of medicine.

There’s little risk of rejection when using your own adult stem cells, so you’re less likely to need dangerous immunosuppressive drugs. And besides certain ethical issues and regulatory barriers to embryonic stem cell therapy, adult stem cells may hold several technical advantages. For one, they may be more viable.  

It’s a little known fact that only about 30 percent of conceptions advance to term. In other words, about 70 percent of embryos may be so defective that they naturally abort. 

In addition to eventually helping restore internal organs, immune systems and more, adult stem cell therapies also hold the promise of restoring old skin and bald scalps. I am personally beta testing a new product for regrowing hair that has adult stem cell factors (primarily peptides, no DNA)  and have been favorably impressed with the results to date.  

One major player in the field is The Maximum Life Foundation. They have discovered an emerging technology that could fine tune stem cell treatments and make every adult stem cell therapy in the world much more safe and effective.

As you age, your stem cells diminish in quality and quantity, so just when you require strong stem cells the most, you’re becoming deficient. Hence your organs and tissues eventually wear out and need to be restored or replaced.

Cells become randomly damaged or mutated over time, but a small percentage may incur relatively little damage—or may escape damage altogether. So some of your stem cells may be as pristine as those that you enjoyed as a teenager, or even as an infant.

The technology discovered by The Maximum Life Foundation  identifies, isolates, and amplifies those “pristine” stem cells from your own population for therapies. This selection process could supercharge stem cell treatments by using these “best of breed” cells instead of old cells.

Stem Cell Treatments Have Been Proven to Work 

As a bridge to human therapies, a San Diego company has already given us a peek into the future with their horse and dog treatments. Vet-Stem provides a quick-turnaround laboratory service that lets veterinarians to use regenerative cells in animals.  

The veterinarian simply collects a small fat sample from the patient and ships it overnight to the Vet-Stem laboratory. Then, Vet-Stem processes the sample, concentrates the cells which are shipped in ready-to-inject syringes. Finally, the veterinarian injects the cells directly into the injured site. 

With more than 3,000 horses treated and multiple studies demonstrating the success and safety of their regenerative medicine, Vet-Stem currently helps horses and dogs with fractures, joint disease, or tendon or ligament injuries return to their full level of ability. 

Just imagine what the prospects for aged humans might be if similar treatments used pristine human stem cells. Type 1 diabetes wouldn’t be the only chronic disease that could be effectively wiped out.

However, despite Dr. Weissman’s negative experiences in trying to bring his findings to the fore, it’s not completely out of the question yet. In an accompanying editorial in JAMA titled “Cellular therapy for type 1 diabetes: has the time come?” Dr Jay Skyler of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami, wrote:

“Research in this field is likely to explode in the next few years and should include randomized controlled trials, as well as mechanistic studies."


[+] Sources and References

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