Focusing on a patient who has had diabetes for 37 years, this video goes through the medical treatments that are now available for sufferers of this disease.
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Jennifer Mathews: 37 years with diabetes have taken their twirl on Betsy Ray. Betsy Ray: I have got Retinopathy in my eyes, I have cataracts as well, I have got calcification of the heart, I have got kidney disease. Jennifer Mathews: As a Type 1 diabetic, Betsy's body can make insulin a hormone necessary for survival. Gordon Weir: One of our dreams for treating Type 1 diabetes and actually, it might be helpful for Type 2 diabetes also, use to replace the lost insulin producing cells. Jennifer Mathews: Doctor Weir, from the Joslin Diabetes Center says researchers are close to that dream, they are transplanting Eyelid cells, the cells that make insulin. Gordon Weir: That 1% of the pancreas which contains the insulin producing cells is very small biome of tissue about just a size of the end of my finger and if we could put that back into person with diabetes then, we could really get rid of diabetes. Jennifer Mathews: The transplants are working, doctors get most patient of insulin right away about 75% are still insulin free, after a year, when it works it's essentially a cure, but not everyone who needs a transplant will get one. Gordon Weir: We would be lucky get 4000 pancreases a year to use for transplantation and every year there are about 35000 new cases of Type 1 diabetes. So the arithmetic just doesn't work. Jennifer Mathews: Hotly debated stem cells transplants could solve that problem, Eyelid cells from pigs are also possible. Gordon Weir: If this therapy is successful, it should get rid of diabetes, almost all of it. Jennifer Mathews: In other research scientist Jeffery Bluestone says a specific antibody can stop disease progression when given to Type 1 diabetics. Jeffery Bluestone: The majority of them are 9 out of 12 and that are making more, equal amount of insulin they did at the start of the trial. Jennifer Mathews: The antibody must be given right after diagnosis, it helps preserve what's left of the patients own insulin producing cells. Jeffery Bluestone: There is no reason, why Type 1 diabetes, shouldn't be cured. I hope, I am out of the job. Jennifer Mathews: Betsey's body no longer makes insulin, so the antibody won't help her. But she is on a list for an Eyelid cell transplant. Betsey Ray: I look at it as a way to perhaps be a pioneer to help others for a really selfish reasons, it's a way for me to perhaps gain a little more longevity. Jennifer Mathews: This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.