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Some Recent History...

Can we finally hope that a cure for diabetes is near at hand? Consider the following history:

1922 Journal of Laboratory & Clinical Medicine Diabetes researchers, Dr. Fredrick Banting and Charles Best, at the University of Toronto published the results of their research demonstrating that injected insulin can control diabetes in dogs. Even though many dogs died from these early insulin injections, two years later insulin was saving the lives of thousands of diabetics worldwide.

1996 Journal of Clinical Investigation Dr. Anthony Sun at the University of Toronto published the results of his team's research in which insulin-dependent diabetic monkeys achieved normal blood sugar control with no insulin injections. For the first time in history, diabetes was reversed in primates by transplanting insulin-producing islets from pigs into monkeys, without requiring toxic immune-suppressing drugs to prevent rejection. None of these monkeys, newly freed from diabetes, experienced any adverse effects from the transplants.

1997 Auckland School of Medicine Dr. Robert Elliott, Professor of Pediatrics at the Auckland School of Medicine in New Zealand, succeeded in transplanting insulin-producing islets from pigs into human diabetics. The pig islets survived in the human recipients without immunosuppressives, and produced insulin like a normal non-diabetic pancreas. Based on these promising early results, and an absence of any adverse effects, a wider human trial is planned.

Other researchers, both academic and commercial, have made incremental progress over the past several years. Challenges remain, but these current successes may be as close to a cure in 2000 as Banting and Best were to a treatment in 1922.

In conjunction with these highly visible milestones, many researchers are quietly working on technologies that will be key to the widespread availability of a safe and affordable cure for diabetes.  The Islet Foundation has one simple mission: To raise awareness and funding for human trials of these promising technologies in what many believe will be the final push in a cure for diabetes.