What’s Up With the JDRF and Denise Faustman?

This past April 12, 2005, would havecome and gone like any other day hadI not seen a headline in my local paperthat caught my eye:

“Polio Vaccine’s Golden Anniversary” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 11, 2005).

Yes, April 12, 2005, marked the 50thanniversary of Jonas Salk’s development ofthe vaccine that cured infantile paralysis, oras we better know it, polio.

As a type 1 for 30 years, it got me thinking:Was polio really the last disease that wasactually cured? No disrespect to Dr. Salk—agenius and hero by all accounts—but Iwould think that the scientists, technology,resources and brain power we have today aremuch better at developing cures than theywere 50 years ago.

But polio is still the last disease that wascured.

So I ask you: What is so hard about findinga cure for type 1 diabetes, or cancer oreven the common cold? Could it be, as ourOctober 2003 cover story pointed out, thatcuring a profitable disease is not a goodbusiness decision? That too many companieswould stand to lose too much if there were acure for diabetes, or cancer or the commoncold?

Why Did the JDRF Circulate a LetterCritical of Denise Faustman’s Work?

That question leads into our article thismonth on Denise Faustman’s regenerativeresearch.

As you know, we covered Denise Faustman’s research in the March 2004 issue of Diabetes Health (“The Latest Cure: Injected SpleenCells Reverse Type 1 in Mice,”). Thiswas a full eight months before The NewYork Times finally got around to coveringit in a November 2004 article. When TheTimes did, however, the Juvenile DiabetesResearch Foundation (JDRF) sent a letter toThe Times criticizing Faustman’s work, whichThe Times did not publish. Afterward, theJDRF circulated the unpublished letter to itschapters in an e-mail, which made its wayinto the hands of several of our readers.

As previously reported in this magazine, Dr.Faustman has petitioned the JDRF in thepast to fund her research, only to be turneddown. I am a member of the JDRF and enjoyreceiving their quarterly magazine. I realizethat it is certainly not our place to questionhow the JDRF spends its research money,but our readers started asking, Why wouldthe JDRF circulate a letter critical of Dr.Faustman’s work?

We had to investigate.

Read Martin Jensen’s article (“Why Did the JDRF Try to Discredit Cure Research?”) andlet us know what you think in the comingmonths.

Symlin

As a type 1, I couldn’t be more excitedabout the FDA’s decision to approve Symlin(pramlintide acetate) injections to be used inconjunction with insulin to treat diabetes.

I’ve been hearing nothing but positive thingsabout this synthetic analog for years nowand am excited that type 1s and insulin-usingtype 2s now have another treatment option.See our article (“FDA Approves Symlin”) to learn more about it.

Scott King
Editor-in-Chief
Type 1, 30 years (and counting)

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