Home Support system Stem cell trial is biggest ‘step towards a cure’ for type 1 diabetes in 100 years, researchers say

Stem cell trial is biggest ‘step towards a cure’ for type 1 diabetes in 100 years, researchers say


SAN ANTONIO – Alan Lowry of San Antonio was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D), a year after his twin brother, when he was 6 years old.

“It’s an autoimmune disease where my immune system thinks my pancreas is something bad, so it attacks it, and now it’s not producing insulin,” Lowry said. “So I have to inject it through syringes or an insulin pump.”

Living with the daily stress of type 1 diabetes caused Lowry a lot of stress.

“I’m one miscalculation away from a really serious emergency. If I have low blood sugar, the cells don’t have the energy to function, the organs start shutting down, the brain, the lungs, the heart,” he explained.

High blood sugar is also dangerous, slowly putting wear and strain on the body.

In 2015 Lowry received an insulin pump and it changed his life. He then researched the origin of the technology and found that the JDRF organization had a lot to do with advancing technology and treatment.

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He soon became a member of the board of directors of JDRF, a national non-profit organization that funds T1D research and provides a support system for patients and their families.

Recently, JDRF helped fund a clinical study where Vertex Pharmaceuticals used stem cell therapy in a T1D patient.

They call it the biggest advancement for the disease in 100 years, since the very first insulin injection treatment.

“They took donated stem cells and injected them into someone else’s body and that made a type 1 diabetic lie on a 91% insulin-free diet,” Lowry said.

Stem cell therapy restored the body’s natural ability to create and regulate insulin and freed the first participant with type 1 diabetes from insulin injections.

When asked what this means to people like him, Lowry smiled with visible joy and relief.

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“My God, there are so many possibilities! This is the first big step towards real practical treatment where someone with diabetes could live the same life as someone without diabetes,” he said.

Lowry said this stem cell research is still in its early stages.

“There is a lot of work to do. More clinical trials, more data to collect,” he said.

However, there is also more hope than ever.

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