Yes, I know: Insulin is essential for life. People who don't produce enough insulin have to take insulin shots to stay alive. And by carefully matching their food with their insulin, they can live long and happy lives, albeit lives that are more difficult than those of people who don't need extra insulin.
However, controlling diabetes through diet and insulin -- even with the "artifical pancreas" that does some of the calculations for the patient -- is not enough for most people. We want a cure. Both type 1 and type 2: We want a cure.
What is a cure? Different people define cure differently. Some sellers of the "miracle cures" that you can find on the Internet seem to define cure as having lower blood glucose levels than you had when you started. Some people define cure as not taking any drugs, even though you might have to go on a strict low-carb diet in order to do so. Dr Richard Bernstein defines cure as having a normal glucose tolerance test. I agree with him.
There's certainly no lack of studies of insulin. I just searched PubMed, which showed almost 13,000 articles with insulin in the title published so far in 2015, and more than 30,000 papers about diabetes.
But we still don't have a cure.
Is it possible that because insulin is so important for diabetes, and essential for controlling it, it's drawing attention and research funding away from other compounds that might be less important for control but more important for prevention or cure?
Don't ask me what these compounds would be. If I knew I'd be famous. But some people feel that hormones like glucagon play a big role, and more and more are studying this hormone (about 1300 papers in 2015). How about somatostatin (621 articles), which inhibits the release of both insulin and glucagon, as well as having effects on other hormone systems?
It wasn't that long ago that we didn't know about leptin (identified in 1990s), which plays a large role in obesity. Could there be other yet-undiscovered hormones out there that would be the key to preventing diabetes and maybe even reversing it once it's manifest? Could the focus on the essential-for-life hormone insulin be blinding us to the effects if other, more obscure hormones?
I'm probably wrong, but it never hurts to wonder.
I'm posting news items on our FaceBook page now
10 months ago