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News from Faustman Lab: Study finds some insulin production in long-term type 1 diabetes

BOSTON – Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research has found that insulin production may persist for decades after the onset of type 1 diabetes. Beta cell functioning also appears to be preserved in some patients years after apparent loss of pancreatic function. The study results were published today in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

"Traditionally, it was thought that beta cell function completely ceased in patients with advanced type 1 diabetes. However, data from this study and others suggest that the pancreas continues to function at some level even decades after the onset of type 1 diabetes," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Immunobiology Laboratory, who led the study.


Tags: beta, cells, islets, research

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Maybe that's why some diabetics need a lot more insulin than others. It may also account for greater needs at time than at other times.

Great News for the world fantastic thank you.

I find it a bit strange that this is new. Joslin has an ongoing study for the long time candidates that had no to just mild complications - like Richard. One year ago they published that they have found residual beta cells in these candidates. The thesis is that this residual production is lowering the spikes and that other components of natural insulin like amylin might have protective side effects. It is an ongoing efford to find out why some people are free of complications despite of their quality of control. Based on that the finding of Faustman is reassuring that the success with mice can be repeated with humans.

What a dream but I think that my type 1 is too old ( since 1967). thank you Emily to give this new.

Brigitte, NO it is not. I've had type 1 since 1955 and am a part of the Joslin study. Never, ever give up. Additionally, I am now having issues with my pancreatic enzymes, but do not know if this is a common occurrence, or just me. For all others following this thread, the last I heard, they had examined 17 pancreases and found that ALL had insulin producing cells present, just not in sufficient quantity to be of any use. That is, except to allow us to be relatively free from many complications. This does vary amongst us, some with none, and many of us with some. We have a "protection factor" per Dr. King. He stated lst June when we all met at the Josiln Clinic that we were special because of this. There are 700+ involved right now, but they are always looking for more. This protection factor, however, does not extend to the heart. we suffer heart issues just like the general population, but our eyes, kidneys, nerves seem to have some protection. I've had macro vascular problems (PVD), but my eyes and kidneys are still pretty good (some proteinuria, but after 57 years...) Most al in the study heard the same story when we were diagnosed. There will be a cure in a few years. we are still waiting, but research is moving ahead fast, much faster now. Just don't give up Brigitte....

Yank, I agree. In my mind, if you have one working beta cell, that's enough. And I'm convinced (based on nothing more than a high-school honors biology class) that cells continue to divide and grow throughout our entire lives. It's how we grow from an embryo to a person. It's how blood replenishes itself. (It's even how cancer grows!). Seriously, do you think the beta cells in my 94-year-old grandmother (without diabetes) are the same ones she had when she was born? Doubtful. Old ones die and new ones replenish the supply.

So I believe that if the autoimmune attack can be stopped, the beta cells will replenish and the diabetes will be gone.

Wow! Thanks for this post Yank. Congratulations for living well with T1 for so many years! Cheers!

Thank you for all! Yes, I don't want to give up when I read your words.

*I am not discouraged at all, Brigitte. Maybe I have residual beta cell functioning. I do not need a lot of insulin and have had to recently lower my basals I have had type one for 43 years and have only mild complications,
( feet and calf tingling). Kidneys and eyes are perfectly fine. No vascular nor cardiovascular issues at all. Since I go to Boston to donate blood for Dr. Faustman, do you think they would want to look at me for the Joslin study as well?

and Yes Gerri, I used the "old animal insulins" for over 25 years...

God bless,


You will have to wait 7 more years to get into the study I'm afraid. They use 50 years with it as a cut-off. You could check, of course, and If I were you, I stay on it. The study needs as many as it can get, but there are some requirements of course. The numbers they gave us last year were 3200 type 1's who are 50 year Medalists and have had it for over 50 years, 42 75 year Medalists, and 650 involved currently in the study (but that figure is probably higher now). I do have more statistics if you are interested. We were presented with a booklet that contains some of the stories from these Medalists that they chose to write a,nd pictures of our Celebration from June 3-4, 2011 at the Joslin Clinic in Boston. This was my first event that I went to, but will continue to go if they keep having them. NONE of us will benefit directly from being in the study, but the thought of someone else being helped by the information that they can gather is overwhelming, to say the least. I still hold out hope for a "cure" if you will allow me to use that word... (I think a fix is probably better)

Thanks, Yank. I would appreciate that info. I do believe that you and I will see a"cure" a "fix" in both of OUR lifetimes...
God bless,

What encouraging news. Know someone who's been T1 for over 40 years. He was on gamma globulin for a serious infection. We all know what infection does to BG. During that time, he used a tiny fraction of his usual dose. He wrote researchers begging them to investigate a connection. Soon as gamma globulin treatment stopped, he was back to his usual insulin doses.

I've often wondered if the C-peptide in old animal insulins had protective or restorative properties & wish it was added to current insulin.




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