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DT: come reap

and though the rules of the road have been lodged, it's only people's games that you got to dodge

Posted on 2006.15.12 at 15:01
where am I: here!
How I feel about it all: busybusy
Soundtrack: Bob Dylan - It's Alright, Ma (I'm only bleeding)
Tags: , , , ,
I remember hearing bout this in 2003:

Stem Cells Reverse Diabetes in Mice

I remember thinking that this was a giant breakthrough that might very well mean the beginnings of a cure for diabetes. But the weeks and months went on and on, and I didn't hear anything else. I thought back to it a lot, basically with a lot of wtf? kinds of thoughts.

So now I read this:

Canadian Scientists Reverse Diabetes in Mice

This research project is about pain receptors and their affect on insulin production. The first one was about stem cells from bone marrow.

So okay, I have a lot of questions about these two studies. Like what happened in the three years between them? I looked around some more and found out that both of these projects (studies? What do you call them?) had various researchers in common (i.e. scientists from the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and the Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario).

I realise that a lot of research has to be done before an official cure can be announced. What confuses me is that (at least to me) the first study sure looked like a giant step, and maybe even an actual cure. But so far I've not seen anything else, like trials on humans or any more announcements. Granted I haven't looked obsessively or anything, but still.

The second study appears to be looking at an entirely different approach to the problem. Yay for more research, and yay for good results, but my question is, what's happened in the three years between these projects? Has there been any forward motion towards human clinical trials for the stem cells? I'm not condemning, here, I'm just continuing with the wtf? Any scientist-types are welcome to 'splain, Lucy, because I don't understand.

Also, and I am griping a little here, um. Why is it that the ONLY major news source on the most recent study is the CBC? Why isn't CNN or NPR covering it? I might have missed it, but I did what I thought was a pretty good search. And I'm sorry, but I really think it's a little more newsworthy than the misbehaviour of Miss USA.

It might be my cynical little mind at work, here, but I can't help thinking about those news stories that say, "A blahblahblah jet crashed today in blahblah. There were no Americans killed."

There's no excuse for CNN or NPR (or the BBC, for that matter?) not covering the recent research results. I've seen diabetes do terrible things to people, and any good thing happening should be shouted from the highest hills. I know it's a sacrifice, America, but couldn't we wait a day or so to learn that Dubya is Happy for Pregnant Mary Cheney? *headdesk*

I couldn't find any major news source anywhere with a headline on the first study. It's probably dropped off Google in the past three years. I probably heard it on NPR originally, because that's my main US news source and I don't watch broadcast TV.

In other news,

Dear Lady Macbeth Rummy,

Don't let the door hit you in the arse on your way out. Please use provided basin to wash the blood from your hands before you leave.

Oh, and this one's for you:

Elton John - Goodbye

No Love at All,

Me (and millions of others, say true)

P.S. Please ignore strikeout. Any comparison between you and the aforementioned lady is incongruent, because well, she developed a conscience before she checked out.


gamps_garret at 2006-12-15 20:43 (UTC) ()

Not an expert but my take from what I know of cancer-based research processes...

The reason they haven't done anything with humans in the intervening time since the first study is the sheer number of variables they don't know enough about. From that first article, these quotes put up red flags for me:

  • “It suggests that there is something in the bone marrow that can stimulate the pancreatic stem cells to regenerate.”

  • “Bone marrow cells only go to the pancreas if it’s injured,” says Bhatia. “Something at the injury site causes the stem cells to home in to the damaged pancreas. We have no idea what that could be.”

  • Other studies have shown recently that bone marrow stem cells can become different kinds of cells in the body, including heart, liver, pancreas, and nerve. But these findings have been controversial. Some experiments suggest that the stem cells can themselves be turned into different types of cells, while others suggest that the change occurs because the cells fuse to form hybrid cells.

    What you have are two research physicians both doing projects with the same material, coming up with separate results, and disagreeing about the course of action. Within their findings, you have two major questionable actions taking place -- "something" in bone marrow stimulates regeneration within the pancreas, but no one knows what that something is, and "something" in a damaged pancreas attracts the unknown agent within the bone marrow. It's one thing to repeat that study over and over and over again in research mice, when the animals are all healthy specimens who are treated to develop diabetes. It's another thing entirely to try it in the very complex human system with a host of other side problems that go along with human diabetes -- until there are more answers, or at least clear agreement on a possible hypothesis between the physician teams, anyway.

    With the second study, it's much more likely that the treatment will be translated to a human clinical trial, because there are no variable questions within the in-mice-procedure itself. The physicians are looking at an immunology approach to treating the illness: they found a specific sensory neuron that interacts and reacts with the pancreatic islets, two concrete physical sites that they can (and have) manipulated in a variety of ways in mice, and have found that a specific kind of intervention with these two parts of the body brings about a desired result. Thus, fewer variables = less potential risk.

  • The researchers are now working to extend the studies to humans.

    That is ALWAYS the line you want to look for in lay-reported research articles. If researchers aren't actively seeking a human-extended study themselves, there's a good reason.

    Does that make sense?
  • try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-15 21:03 (UTC) ()

    Re: Not an expert but my take from what I know of cancer-based research processes...

    It does make sense, thanks!

    I figured that the subject wasn't being ignored, since some of the same researchers worked on both studies. *crosses fingers* I'm not diabetic, but I've seen people go blind and lose legs and die because of it, and I really think it's a major, major issue in world health. I'm also not criticising the studies at all, I just was curious about the wait.

    Now if someone can tell me why CNN isn't running the story, I'll understand everything. *g* I mean, I know it's oh-so important that we know about Dubya's opinion on Mary Cheney's baby (I'm betting that Ms. Cheney doesn't care much what he thinks, actually, since he's talking out of both sides of his mouth) and a puppy chewing off a baby's toes, but still, you might think that they'd be able to fit it in on page five or something. :/
    gamps_garret at 2006-12-15 21:34 (UTC) ()

    Re: Not an expert but my take from what I know of cancer-based research processes...

    Awesome -- you're welcome. :-)

    CNN tends not to run research-based medical news until it's at a lay-level that is extremely easy for the average reader/viewer to understand; this particular study is still a bit technical, I think. Once there is a clinical study in place for humans, I bet you'll see more wide-spread coverage.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-16 02:36 (UTC) ()

    Re: Not an expert but my take from what I know of cancer-based research processes...

    The study is probably so technical in its original form that I couldn't understand it at all. But, This looks like a layperson's translation, so I wonder why CNN couldn't do something like it? Or maybe just provide a link to this. After all, the story about the baby-toes chewing puppy is an external link. ;)

    topaz7 at 2006-12-15 21:56 (UTC) ()
    GAAH! Just posted and LJ deleted it. Damn you LJ! *shakes fist like a crazy person*

    What I said was, I am so glad to see the back end of that surly old bastard (Rummy). Who do you think is next, or will the rest of that gang of thieves last until '08?

    Also - I'm sure Mary C couldn't care less what Dubya thinks, and he couldn't care less about her - unless she had something he wanted. Stupid selfish maroon. Sometimes the depth of my hatred surprises me!
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-16 02:03 (UTC) ()
    I keep hoping that Karl Rove will go, but he doesn't seem to be the problem he used to be, mostly because fewer Americans are listening to his boss anymore.

    I don't know much about Ms. Cheney except that she seems to be pretty content with her life, which I don't think is true for her dad or Uncle Dubya.
    briary_flower at 2006-12-15 22:47 (UTC) ()
    My brother-in-law's brother has type I diabetes. Every time there's an announcement like this, his poor parents get all excited. He just rolls his eyes.

    What's Wrong With Medical Reporting?
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-16 02:18 (UTC) ()
    This is a really interesting article. I've found that a lot of the 'breakthroughs' in medicine confirm what nutritionists and herbal/homeopathic/natural medicine practitioners have been saying for years. For example, I don't remember when the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with their brilliant proclamation of "Hey! Breastfeeding is GOOD for babies!" I bet La Leche League was rolling their collective eyes afterwards, though.

    Now more and more it's being discovered that ultrasounds aren't the benign test of fetal health that they've been touted to be all these years, and that epidural anaesthesia can actually be harmful to mother and baby both.

    I think it just goes to show who's in charge, and in the U.S., anyway, it's the AMA and the pharmaceutical companies.

    If it seems that I pretty much loathe the American healthcare system, it's because I do. Especially AC0G, but that's another long and ranty post. :/
    briary_flower at 2006-12-17 02:57 (UTC) ()
    My cousin's wife was almost paralyzed by her epidural. But that was in Sault Ste. Marie. The anesthesiologist was probably drunk. Nah, I josh. But it really is just about press releases. I mean, my cousin is a financial reporter for Reuters, and he knows fuck all about business. I'm sure it's the same with medical writing.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-17 04:31 (UTC) ()
    I had one and thank god only one epidural, with my one completely medical delivery. I was young and uneducated, and the stuff that happened shouldn't have happened. Women aren't told this stuff.

    I dunno what, but something needs to change with the way things are reported and what things are reported. Not that they will, of course, but in a perfect world, y'know? Before they do I guess people will have to stop actually caring about Britney Spears' naked time. *throws up hands*
    briary_flower at 2006-12-17 22:13 (UTC) ()
    My sister and her husband had a midwife for their first child and it was a brilliant birth experience. The baby was still delivered in hospital, but the midwife and her student ran the show, and it was a peaceful, beautiful experience. Unfortunately for the most part the birthing of babies is entrenched in the medical model, and the medical model has historically been presided over by men.
    Midwifery in Canada

    I have a theory, based on my own experiences in the world and the feeling I often have that things just aren't right. I think society, even in our enlightened age, is so unnatural it totally warps women.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-18 06:54 (UTC) ()
    This article looks like something I really can use, yay! I don't have time to read it all, now, but I've saved it.

    I think society, even in our enlightened age, is so unnatural it totally warps women.

    I definitely agree. Birth has become a medical event, and the star is the doctor instead of the woman having the baby.

    A wonderful book that I rec every chance I can get is Birth as an American Rite of Passage. It's specifically about birth in the US, but there's a lot about the medical model vs the midwifery model that would apply in Canada. One thing it talks about is how women have been thought of and made to think of themselves as flawed vessels. I'm always hearing terms like "failure to progress" and "incompetent cirvix" and women say things like "my uterus was too small" or "I didn't have enough milk", instead of looking at and their bodies as something cabable, and birth as something that women's bodies have been doing for centuries.
    briary_flower at 2006-12-18 07:13 (UTC) ()
    Well, women are the original flawed vessels. Rib of Adam, bringing forth of the children in agony and whatnot.

    Thanks for the rec! That's looks like a good read. I can think of a lot of people who would be into that book.
    geoviki at 2006-12-16 01:01 (UTC) ()
    I might have mentioned that my son is type 1 diabetic.

    There's a fuckton of money being pumped into research, so the progress is steady and positive. It's the press that's flighty about filling in the blanks.

    In the first study, creating new pancreatic cells is yay! That's a step. But type 1 diabetics destroy the cells - their originals and any new ones created - so the trick is to keep the new cells away from the ongoing destruction. They do this by trying to encapsulate them - make a molecular cage that keeps the antibodies out while letting the insulin out as well. It's tricky.

    The second study I haven't assimilated yet. My husband keeps up with the research end of things. But they still don't know the cause of type 1 diabetes, so this may be a breakthrough at the underlying cause.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-16 02:07 (UTC) ()
    The process of diabetes is intricate as hell, and I don't pretend to understand it. I'm just glad this kind of research is going on. Also, apparently the stem cells used in Study 1 were from bone marrow, so it shouldn't hit any controversial nerves.

    My mom was just diagnosed with Type 2. She's diet-controlled, but who knows how long that will last. I hope for a long time. :)

    aphephobia at 2006-12-16 03:24 (UTC) ()
    I honestly think they don't give us more follwups and details on the science stories because they assume they;re of limited interest or the journalists don't understand what they're reporting.

    America, but couldn't we wait a day or so to learn that Dubya is Happy for Pregnant Mary Cheney?

    I HATE those types of "stories." They're filler, and who CARES? Not to mention, what's so good about being "pleased" she's pregnant? If he was angry about it, then it would be interesting, but it's as obvious as "George Bush takes a dump" or "George Bush eats something for lunch."

    When Miss World had that wardrobe malfunction a few years ago, it was fucking dominating everything. t was like Princess Diana's death, only about a dress. Fucken ridiculous.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-16 05:31 (UTC) ()
    Yep. It was the same here with Janet Jackson. wtf? I really hate the media, sometimes. No, lots of times, actually.

    peacey at 2006-12-19 14:15 (UTC) ()
    Here's a thing: Andrew met Rumsfeld when Rummy came 'round Iraq for his "farwell tour" a few weeks back. Andrew is at work, helping a woman with I think it was her arm. He had a curtain drawn around them and *whoosh!* the curtain flies open and there's Rummy surrounded by all the brass (Rummy didn't whoosh the curtain though). I guess he's a short, frail looking guy who shuffled when he walked (in fairness, it might've been because the quarters were so tight and so many people were around him). Andrew said he was glad the woman didn't know that three feet away from her stood the architect of the war.
    try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
    primroseburrows at 2006-12-20 09:02 (UTC) ()
    Eep. I hope nobody ever told her.

    And I hope this Gates guy has a little more sense.
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