With advances in new medical technology helping to bolster research on a daily basis, people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes can have hope in new treatments for managing levels.
Unlike people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes — where the pancreas cannot effectively use the vital insulin that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood — the immune system in people diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes attacks the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, preventing insulin production.
Commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes, Type 1 diabetes is becoming increasingly common as both forms of diabetes were diagnosed in about 8.3 percent of the American population in 2011, according to Kathy West, certified diabetes educator at Western Baptist Hospital.
While all forms of diabetes can be managed with proper management of blood sugar levels, diets and activities, researchers with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation hope developments in studies could make huge strides in treatment.
Though not a cure for diabetes, an artificial pancreas is currently being tested as an easier way to manage insulin. A sensor is implanted that measures blood sugar levels autonomously and determines the accurate amount of insulin to deliver to the body, West said.
Researchers are also looking at the rejuvenation or implementation of beta cells within a person’s pancreas, in hope the cells can create their own insulin.
The JDRF is also beginning an intensive study following children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and the genetic tendencies for the disorder, in hopes to eliminate the catalyzing elements from the beginning.
“It’s like a cure for cancer: it’s almost there, but it’s always out of reach,” West said.
That’s one of the reasons why Ashley and Tom Shadoan took up the call to coordinate the annual Four Rivers Walk to Cure Diabetes, which raises donations to benefit JDRF research. Their son, 15-year-old Parker, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was in elementary school.
“It’s a thought that never leaves your mind,” Ashley Shadoan said. “He’s pretty much having to do the math all day long to maintain his body, while being a normal teenager, when he’s playing on the tennis team, playing video games or going to the lake.”
In the past three years, the walk has raised more than $250,000 for JDRF research, with nearly a thousand walkers turning out for support, Ashley Shadoan said. This year’s walk begins at 1 p.m. June 9, at Noble Park shelter 16.
“It’s humbling based on the generosity of the community we live in that people are willing to continue to support this cause, because people are beginning to see that we’re getting so much closer to a cure that would save so many lives,” she said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.