Type 1 Diabetes is a nasty disease in which the islet cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body. This renders the sufferer unable to produce insulin, which is necessary to regulate the metabolism of glucose (sugar), the body’s main fuel.
Without insulin you will die. Type 1 diabetics must therefore inject insulin, either through the use of a pump or manually using syringes, literally through the day and manually test and regulate the blood sugar — a process that healthy people’s bodies do automatically.
It has been assumed that this condition, once it developed, was essentially incurable, although there were some people who believed that stem cells might be able to be “turned on” to replace the destroyed islet cells, or that we might some day come up with an artificial pancreas.
What I bet nobody assumed was that a relatively inexpensive, and 90 year old vaccine might actually cause the body to repair itself.
A tuberculosis vaccine that has been in use for 90 years may help reverse Type 1 diabetes and eliminate the life-long need for insulin injections, results from an early study by Harvard University researchers suggest.
“These patients have been told their pancreases were dead,” said Denise Faustman, director of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital’s immunobiology laboratory, who led the study. “We can take those people, give them a very low dose twice and see their pancreases kick in and start to make small amounts of insulin.”
This is the sort of breakthrough — the possibility of an actual cure for a condition that has always been regarded as utterly incurable — that you would think everyone would be jumping all over to test and develop, right?
And why not?
Faustman and her colleagues at Massachusetts General in Boston are working to get the vaccine to market. After their early findings in studies with mice, she said they tried to interest every major drugmaker in developing the vaccine as a possible cure for diabetes. All told her there wasn’t enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine, Faustman said.
It’s not about people or health.
It’s about money.
The implication, of course, is that if it’s more profitable to “control” a disease than cure it, the path that will be pursued is “control”, not cure.
Are all these chronic conditions that we suffer from truly incurable?
Or is it simply that nobody looks for actual cures, because it doesn’t make as much money as “therapies” do?
It was a bit different when charities were providing a good part of the care. Then you had people actually interested in cures, because the funds were privately provided and the more people you could cure the more people you could help.
EMTALA and the rest of the mess our government put in place in the health system broke the incentives that would normally be associated with medicine, and we all get screwed as a consequence.