Juvenile Diabetes Section


Unfortunately this is how many people define Juvenile Diabetes, and why there is too little urgency for finding a cure.

What is Diabetes

Recently there has been a lot of attention (and confusion) in the media about Diabetes.

I'm always told about some new pill, diet, or herbal supplement, that I might try so I won't need to keep taking shots, or hearing about a person's parent or grandparent who has diabetes "just like me" when I ask how long they've had it the reply usually is, "about five years" well, I'll the fact is, it's not the same thing.
The reality is there are two major types of Diabetes and the difference between each isn't just a matter of splitting hairs. The origins of getting either type are completely different and the treatments of each significantly vary in that in Type I a person needs to take insulin (either by injections or an external pump). Without insulin, for even several hours we are in real trouble and in a matter of weeks or even days we will die.

What we do have in common are the threat of complications, and their likely source -elevated blood glucose (or sugar).

Since islets cells produce insulin, they define the different types of Diabetes


In the case of Type II Diabetes the islets cell are alive and working, just not enough for the body to metabolize sugar to keep blood glucose levels in a normal range. The reason the islet cells can't fulfill a persons physical demands may be because they are overweight, are eating foods that are so sweet that the islet cells can't metabolize the surplus sugar, or like most organs don't perform as well as they should as part of the aging process. Most Type II diabetics can control their condition with pills that increase the output of insulin along with diet (avoiding sweets) and exercise (to lower body mass). Most don't need to take shots, although if diet and exercise aren't enough an additional amount of injected insulin my be needed. A person can have Type II for years and not know it, in fact it's estimated a third of all cases of Type II remain undiagnosed. Often the first time many people find out that they have this condition is when the damage of years of having it show up in the form of complications.

The causes of Juvenile Diabetes

Anti-bodies attacking cells caption 1: Get'em boys! caption 2:Do you guys need glasses? We're all on the same team!Thanks to genetic research more is being discovered about the factors that trigger Juvenile Diabetes so that someday it may be prevented from occurring. There has been research about what sets these triggers off, since there have been incidences that in pairs of twins where only one develops Juvenile Diabetes. Stress or some environmental factors may be the cause there is even speculation that a reaction to drinking cow's milk may help trigger Juvenile Diabetes.
The process that leads to
Juvenile Diabetes is essentially the immune system going haywire to the degree that it not only attacks an external virus but goes on to attack specialized cells in the pancreas. These are called islet cells and within them are beta cells, their job is to metabolize carbohydrates.

Without this essential process, glucose (or sugar) begins to build up in the body leading to process called Acidosis or Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
When this sets in, the body turns on it's self yet again and starts consuming it's own tissue.

Cartoon of smiling cell
Beta cells create insulin
-used to break down carbohydrates.

This is how people with diabetes, mostly children, died before 1922 and the discovery that injections of animal insulin stabilized blood sugars. This procedure at the time was highly controversial, but it worked.

So essentially what a person Juvenile (or Type 1) Diabetes is faced with are the the missing cells needed to break down carbohydrates.

Since 1922 was a long time ago, and since the relatively simple procedure of injections of animal insulin saved Juvenile Diabetics from certain death it was assumed that a relative simple procedure could be found to cure Diabetes altogether.

An artificial pancreas could be built but how would it know the precise amount of insulin to pump out for an individuals Cell being hit by a hammer. Caption: If only science could find a way to "repair" immune cells in type 1 diabeticsblood glucose levels. Millions of years of evolution has integrated the production and distribution of insulin into the bodies endocrine system so that replacing the pancreas isn't as easy as replacing a hip, or heart valve. The most obvious path would be to transplant the pancreas from a donor to a patient. This is difficult since we still have a haywire immune system, most likely still maladjusted to kill off any new islet cells that may be transplanted.

Many people simply assume that Diabetics are already cured by insulin, and that if there were a way to take insulin in a pill form that Juvenile Diabetes would be no problem at all. But as most insulin dependent Diabetics will tell you, taking insulin is just one, on a long list of difficulties living with this condition.

Since insulin when released by islet cells plays a vital role in an integrated endocrine system and finding a means of controlling ever changing blood sugar levels is hot-wired into a complex system that for most normal people works automatically.

Juvenile Diabetics therefore, in order to survive, have to deal with this manually, and believe me, it isn't easy.