As of today, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes, but that may all change soon. A national study has concluded in Salt Lake City, giving patients like 30-year-old Christopher Herod hope for a normal life.
“It’s been very stressful,” Herod said. Herod, an athletic man with a muscular build, said he must poke his finger six times a day to monitor his blood sugar. If his insulin level increases or drops too significantly, he could die.
Herod, a coal miner in Craig, Colo., said he just hopes to be around as his two sons get older.
“I want to be there for my family,” Herod said. “They have helped me tremendously. I never had to make the trip to Salt Lake City for treatment alone; somebody has always come with me.”
The goals for the three-year study were to determine whether the infusion of mesenchymal stem cells into the body could rejuvenate insulin-producing cells in the pancreas that Type 1 diabetes destroys.
The stem cells used in the study were obtained from bone marrow, not human embryos — a practice many scorn.
“The stem cells have their own set of programming for what they’re supposed to do and where they’re supposed to be,” said Jared Shields, a clinical research facilitator at Salt Lake City-based Optimum Clinical Research, the firm conducting the study. “We think this is probably a new frontier in medicine.”
Optimum Clinical Research is still awaiting the results of the study, but Shields said he is feeling positive.
The study involved 30 people nationwide between the ages of 18 and 35 who were diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes within 12 weeks of the start of research.
Meanwhile, Optimum Clinical Research will have an exhibit at the American Diabetes Association Diabetes Expo at the South Towne Expo Center on Feb. 25.
“Diabetes affects a diverse crowd of people,” said Shields. “It doesn’t matter if you are old or young, rich or poor.”
The Diabetes Expo is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free and includes health screenings, cooking demonstrations, product and service exhibitors and presentations from leading experts talking about diabetes management and prevention.
“We are the industry leader in diabetes research in the Salt Lake Valley,” Shields said. “We hope that our exhibit will educate the public about the benefits of participating in medical research.”