Researchers at the School of Medicine have launched a clinical study to determine if taking a capsule of insulin crystals can prevent or delay the onset of Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes.
"Parents with children affected by diabetes have long hoped for treatments that would prevent the disease in other family members," says Dr. William V. Tamborlane, professor of pediatrics, chief of pediatric endocrinology and director of the Children's Clinical Research Center at Yale. "This study seeks to answer the question of whether insulin capsules or insulin by injection can prevent diabetes in people at moderate and high risk for the disease, and we believe that this work holds great promise."
Yale is one of 350 centers across the country that are taking part in the National Institute of Health's Diabetes Prevention Trial.
Type 1 diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases in children in this country. People with Type 1 diabetes do not produce insulin, a hormone that regulates how cells obtain energy from food, because their insulin-producing cells are mistakenly destroyed by T cells produced in their body's immune system. As a result, sugar levels build to dangerous levels in the blood, causing damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. Without daily insulin injections, people with Type 1 diabetes will lapse into a coma and eventually die.
While insulin capsules will not lower blood sugar and cannot be used to treat diabetes because they are digested by the body, Dr. Tamborlane and his colleagues believe giving insulin capsules may stop the body's immune system from destroying insulin-producing cells.
The investigators are currently screening individuals for the study. Volunteers must be between the ages of 3 and 45 and have a relative with Type 1 diabetes. To find out if you're eligible to take part in the study, call 1-800-425-8361; to volunteer to take part in the Yale study, call Patricia Gatcomb at 785-4425