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Doctors make breakthrough in Type 1 diabetes cure

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SALT LAKE CITY — New information about diabetes could be life-changing for the millions who live with it, especially those battling Type 1 diabetes.

Doctors at Boston Children's hospital have identified the root cause of Type 1 diabetes and hope to use it to better treat it and possibly find a cure.

"To find a cure, we really have to locate those cells that are attacking our pancreas," said Jenny McKenzie, a documentary filmmaker. "Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are escalating at skyrocketing rates and they are really threatening the health of our next generation."

McKenzie's daughter lives with Type 1 diabetes. Her documentary, called "Sugar Babies," aims to increase awareness to what is now considered to be an epidemic.

"Not having a cure is what drove me to produce this documentary," she said.

Doctors have found what they hope will be the key to a cure — they found a specific pathway in animals, which triggers T cells to attack the pancreas.


Boston Children's Hospital doctors said Tuesday it may be years before new therapies can be tested on children suffering from Type 1 diabetes, but it's a step in the right direction for many who live with it. Liddy Huntsman was diagnosed with it when she was 7 years old and championed Tuesday's news.

"I don't know what life is like without it," Huntsman said.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control reiterated that people like Liddy aren't alone. More than 215,000 people under 20 suffer from diabetes.

"You can't say, ‘You know what, I'm going to go through the whole day and just do what I want,' " she said. "No, because you'll pay the consequences."

For those living with Type 1, a large part of life is the shots and constant blood sugar monitoring. Daily routines include insulin injections to regulate glucose in the blood. The treatment is for management, however, and won't be the ultimate cure.

In a blog post, Boston Children's Hospital tackles the issue and highlights the newly discovered pathway.

"I believe it won't be long before we can cure diabetes with a number of different therapies depending on the needs of the patient," Paolo Fiorina, a doctor at the hospital, said in the blog. "The future of diabetes treatment is very exciting."


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Andrew Wittenberg


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