And hey, I was all for it before (I have deep fears of developing Alzheimer’s. Probably every writer’s fear). Now I’m personally invested.
Juvenile-onset diabetes is caused by the immune system destroying the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. It can now be treated by transplanting beta cells taken from cadavers, using a technique called the Edmonton protocol. But many recipients suffer severe side effects because of the drugs they have to take to prevent their immune systems rejecting the foreign cells. Also, the supply of beta cells is limited – only 500 people have been treated so far.
Several teams around the world have now managed to derive insulin-producing cells from human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). While this might one day end the shortage of beta cells for transplantation, it is not a perfect solution.
My doctor mentioned this when we were chatting. He thinks it’s about 10 years out. Knowing the FDA, however, I’d bet on 15-20. We’ll see.
In the meantime, I’ll post about some other stuff, I promise.