Yes, I also cringed when I read that title the first time. There are so many things wrong with the phrase “childhood diabetes” and the term seems to follow me wherever I go. The reasons behind my disdain are for another blog some other day. Instead, I’d like you to meet what may be the cure for “childhood diabetes.”
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) is a generic vaccine that is used to prevent tuberculosis. However, it has recently been discoverd by Dr. Denise Faustman to also stop the autoimmune reaction in mice that causes type one diabetes and also prevents new beta cells from re-growing. That’s right. Beta cells can REGROW!
Now I don’t really want to talk about the science behind this because it’s relatively complicated for anyone who isn’t a nerd for diabetes research. But the jist is, it is incredibly promising research which could lead to a remarkably inexpensive cure to diabetes that could be administered by a simple injection. Amazing!
The reason I felt like sharing this story today is because of how this research is being funded. Dr. Faustman has been unable to acquire government funds for research. Her application for funds from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has also been denied. Therefore, her research is being completely privately funded by donors. Through the incredibly generosity of Lee Iacocca (of Chevrolet fame) Dr. Faustman was able to get the money to fund Phase I. However, anyone familiar with the FDA and getting drugs passed through it, knows how expensive it can be!
Therefore, a group of parents of children with type one have started a grassroots organization to directly fund Dr. Faustman’s research. There organization is called Help Cure Childhood Diabetes.
Despite the name, I found this to be an incredibly amazing idea. I have always heard skeptics talk about how drug companies don’t want to cure diabetes because then they lose all the money they are making off of us. I’ve also heard people say that groups like JDRF and ADA also don’t want to cure diabetes because then they would all be out of a job. I have always told myself that this is all completely stupid but I do often wonder if I am being naive. As a believer in capitalism I can see how there really wouldn’t be any financial incentive for a cure for diabetes. Which is why we need people with OTHER incentives to help find the cure.
I really, really love this concept and I truly hope more of it comes about!
PS. When you go to Help Cure Childhood Diabetes make sure you look at the “Meet the Chldren” page. It’ll make you smile and cry. They remind me of me. And of all my campers.