Continuing our medical mini-series, this story was among the NYTimes’ most emailed yesterday.
Type II, adult onset diabetes is the focus of the piece, delving in great detail into recent research that is raising more questions than answers.
It’s a lengthy article, but well written, and well worth your time.
By AMANDA SCHAFFER
An explosion of new research is vastly changing scientists’ understanding of diabetes and giving new clues about how to attack it.
The fifth leading killer of Americans, with 73,000 deaths a year, diabetes is a disease in which the body’s failure to regulate glucose, or blood sugar, can lead to serious and even fatal complications. Until very recently, the regulation of glucose — how much sugar is present in a person’s blood, how much is taken up by cells for fuel, and how much is released from energy stores — was regarded as a conversation between a few key players: the pancreas, the liver, muscle and fat.
Now, however, the party is proving to be much louder and more complex than anyone had shown before.
So, the usual suspects, pancreas, liver, muscle and fat have been joined by new candidates: a hormone produced by bone, osteocalcin; inflammation in the immune system; the brain; and the gut.
[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]
We rail in this country against the high cost of health care. We are outraged by the prices we pay for pharmaceuticals.
But people, there’s wonderful work being done to discover how the human system works, and how to repair it when it is impaired. This diabetes research is a perfect example.
Of course it’s partially financed by the big drug manufacturers. Be glad it is — where else would the big money come from? The government? A useful source of research funding, but always constrained.
You’ve heard this before. These days, the cost of bringing a drug to market is measured in $100s of millions (probably a cool $billion by now), and bunches of years (as many as 15!).
When that 1:10,000 long shot hits, drug companies have a very short patent life to receive top dollar for their intellectual property, which by the way is alleviating pain, curing disease, improving life for patients around the world, while providing the wherewithal for research and testing of the next great breakthrough.
When viewed that way, the high cost of medicine in this country doesn’t seem so extreme.
Yes, the insurance driven system at the patient level is broken, a subject for another day.
But, as a person who has been living with Type II diabetes for over a decade, and whose sister’s partner’s juvenile diabetes is rapidly killing her, MUDGE has a personal stake in successful diabetes research, and by extension, all the useful medical research in this country, however it’s funded.
It’s it for now. Thanks,