by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
December 18, 2006
DIABETES RESEARCHERS SAY CURE FINDINGS ARE 'SOLID'
BRADENTON, Fla., Dec. 18, 2006, 3:15 a.m. EST -- The scientist who serves as spokesman for a group of Canadian researchers that reported discovery of a cure for diabetes in mice in the peer-reviewed journal Cell on Friday says the ground-breaking findings are "solid" but the study's complex approach may take time to replicate. Clinical studies will begin in January, he said.
"The story stands and is solid in it major conclusions," Hans-Michael Dosch, the study's corresponding author, told AR in an email interview Saturday night.
Dosch, one of 14 scientists who contributed expertise to the study, told the American Reporter he has been inundated with more than 1,000 emails - mostly from people suffering from diabetes - and has done more than 100 interviews, including with CBS and the BBC.
So far, though, there has been little word of the findings in major media. About 17 million Americans suffer from Type I. or diabetes mellitus, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but at least 5 million don't even know it. At least half of Americans with Type II diabetes are still undiagnosed, the FDA says.
In Britain, some 6 million have been diagnosed with Type I and 1.6 million with Type II diabetes.
The disease can have a wide range of consequences from imposition of a restricted diet to amputation of limbs, blindness, kidney disease and stroke, and often results in death. The disease arises from the inability of the pancreas to create sufficient insulin to break down glucose, or sugar.
Asked why reaction from peers has been slow in coming, Dosch said "The study is fairly revolutionary and scientists are a conservative bunch, so things will take time."
A "follow-up paper" is nearly complete, he said. The study was a complex one, however, and scientists won't be able to replicate it overnight. "It will take quite some time to replicate, as the required reagents, strategies and skills will be at best rare in any immunology lab, and neuroscience labs will be unfamiliar with the animal modes, etc.," Dosch said.
"Clinical studies will actually be fast," he said. "We anticipate a start this coming January."
The scientists, most of whom work at the Research Institute of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children, found that a single injection of the active ingredient in pepper spray, capsaicin, shut down pain receptor cells in the pancreas that had shut off the production of insulin, creating Type I and Type II diabetic conditions. Once the pain receptor cells were desensitized, laboratory mice bred for diabetes began producing insulin normally within a day or so, the study said.
"Eliminating these neurons in diabetes-prone NOD mice prevents insulitis and diabetes, despite systemic persistence of pathogenic T cell pools," their research paper reported in Cell, a leading scientific journal.
But scientists who believe the immune system is responsible for diabetes are resistant to the conclusions the Canadian scientists reached, Dosch said, yet their response has not dampened the excitement the scientists feel.
"In the end: while some of my peers may dislike our story as it may seem to downplay the role of the immune system in a classical autoimmune disorder, the broad enthusiasm I encountered in the very recent past was encouraging," Dosch told The American Reporter.