Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's Taking So Long?

Banting and Best discovered a pancreatic extract with anti-diabetic characteristics in 1921. By 1922, they had successfully tried their new drug, insulin, on a human. One year, from discovery to implementation. In 1922, a diabetes diagnosis was the beginning of a swift and excruciatingly awful death. There were no options, so I'm sure the line of people willing to try any experimental drug was long.

Times being what they are now, the "death sentence" has thankfully been taken out of a diabetes diagnosis. Advancements in treatment are astonishing, and allow me to know exactly what my daughter's blood sugar is (+/-20%) at any given moment. I was tuned into the persistent low she had all through last night:

9:02p - 69, 2 glucose tabs
10:53p - 78, half juice box
1:01a - 64, other half juice box
3:00a - 97
7:20a - 110

And I was able to treat her accordingly. Grace wears an insulin pump that precisely delivers a set amount of insulin all through the day, and allows me to give more or less insulin based on her daily/hourly needs. When she goes to her endo appointments she gets her A1c results in 20 minutes which give a truer picture of where her blood sugar has been over that last three months.

I LOVE technology. I love that Grace is healthy, active, smart, and creative all while having diabetes. She'll grow, have babies, live her life all thanks to the discovery of insulin and technological advancements.

That being said... it's disheartening to read this article in the Boston Globe. If you think about it, how much closer are we to a cure than Banting and Best were? Advancement in treatments has been astonishing, but a cure? I know the closed loop system is making it's way through the FDA, but, again, that's a treatment, not a cure. And if you read the article, it's clear that the FDA journey is a long and winding one. By one estimate, diabetes cost the US $174 billion in 2007. BILLION! In ONE year! Surely investing in a cure, and the government fast-tracking potential new drugs, would be a wise financial, not to mention humane, decision.
I previously mentioned the teacher at Grace's school who received his 50 year medal. When he was diagnosed he was told it would only be about 10 years before a cure was discovered. Funny...that's exactly what Grace was told last year.

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