By: Tom Karlya
I want to thank you all for the many comments that you have posted. As I said in the article, it does bother me that so many promises have been made and not kept regarding a cure. This has resulted in people just giving up hope and coming to believe that there will never be a cure for diabetes. Such promises are still being made today.
I would caution anyone who hears that a product or “potential” cure will be here in five years. If there is no data to back the claim, you simply should not believe it. Ask questions, lots of questions, of whatever research center you support or believe in, and make sure you get answers! Do not take anything merely at someone’s word. Research is not something that should be revealed only in press releases. It is something that should be presented, evaluated, questioned, and, hopefully, proven.
Diabetes has been cured in mice over three hundred times (maybe even more). Both my children with type 1, however, are not mice. Although research on the rodent model is important, you need to be cautious when reading about mouse findings as a potential cure for diabetes. Also be cautious of the “press release-related cure syndrome.” If you read about a significant find that can be moved up the ladder of research, that’s fabulous. But if it is not in human clinical trials, it’s a lot further away than you might think. And be careful about the “human clinical trial” aspect as well. Testing on humans in a very small study to make sure that the treatment won’t kill the subjects is done to satisfy FDA requirements regarding safety. While it may technically be a trial on humans, it is not a full blown clinical trial proving that a treatment will work on the population as a whole. Again, ask questions, lots of questions.
I also stated in my article, and I was very firm on this, that managing diabetes and having the tools to do so is as crucial as a cure. If people with diabetes do not take care of themselves, a cure very well may be a moot point. In response to the comments about managing diabetes, I want to emphasize that I am in absolute agreement about its importance.
But just as people overstate the significance of their lab findings, so too do some companies selling “potential” devices. Here’s an example: the “Dream Beam,” a “potentially” incredible product that turned out to be nothing more than a scam (http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr15061.txt).
It is these types of false alarms that dash the hopes and dreams of so many. My point is not that you should despair, but rather that you should accept nothing at face value. Do your homework. Who is sharing information with whom? Who is collaborating with whom? Ask, and demand an answer.
With regard to others doing research on diabetes in relation to the DRI, my response is this: Ask them if they ever discussed working with the DRI in a collaborative effort to move their science forward. If there is a cure to be had from any promising discovery, why hold those findings so close to the vest? There are millions of us out here waiting for a cure. The DRI will help test any potentially promising discovery and move it along. If someone is doing work and does not want to share what he or she knows, then I ask, why the heck would you ever support that researcher?
The DRI is known around the world for this collaborative spirit, and the proof is in the Diabetes Research Institute Federation. It was started by Dr. Ricordi many years ago by collaborating with other leading diabetes researchers. While this is the largest worldwide effort focused on a diabetes cure, it is only part of a string of collaborations that have defined the DRI since its inception.
There are a number of projects underway at partner centers around the world. Why? Because 1) The best minds working in their areas of expertise will deliver greater results more quickly; 2) Sometimes it is more cost-effective to conduct research outside the US; and 3) There are fewer barriers to innovation and progress without certain regulatory agencies and lobbies.
Just ask the question of the researchers you know, and let me know what they say to you. This is not a rhetorical statement: Go find out, and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I want to know what you are told. If we can discuss a truly collaborative effort, the DRI will take that call. The DRI’s goal is to go out of business because a cure has been found, and we will utilize everything we have to move the process forward. Period. The DRI stands ready to discuss any science-worthy collaboration, as it has all along.
I do so appreciate the comments made and respect the opinions stated. If you are happy supporting the program(s) you are supporting, I applaud your effort to “not do nothing,” as I have stated many times in my writing and lectures. If you want to know more or want to get involved, my email is above. None of us can stand idly by and watch from the sidelines. The work must continue.
Everyone needs to play a role, if not with the DRI, then wherever you feel the need. But please, engage yourself. Advancement in anything cannot happen without an army to push the effort. Get involved. Together, together, we can find a cure. I’m more confident today than at any time during the 21 years I have been in this war. I’m a diabetes dad.