Monday, November 30, 2015

Holding hope in the palm of your hand

How would it feel to hold something in your hand that had the potential to positively affect every single aspect of your life?  Something so potent that just holding it would bring you to tears since it would be able to change EVERY LITTLE DETAIL OF EVERYTHING in your life?  Is there anything that exists that could potentially have such power?  Some people may think of a jackpot winning lottery ticket, but I’m talking about something here even more life-changing that money cannot currently buy.  When Sir Frederick Banting discovered insulin in 1922, he surely felt what I am trying to explain while holding a vial of insulin.  Before his discovery, a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis meant a certain death in a matter of weeks.  With insulin, the prognosis was extended to years.  Dr. Banting knew that insulin wasn’t a cure, but to see patients miraculously awaken from diabetic comas shortly after being administered insulin must have been one of the most amazing experiences that a human being can have.

I have been hearing about “encapsulation” research projects for the last few years and to be honest was never really too excited about them until now.  The project that gives me the most hope is currently being led by a company called Viacyte Inc.  This year, ViaCyte announced that their Encapsulation research was expanding tohuman clinical trials in Canada!  Human trials, that’s further than most other “life-changing” researches have ever gotten.  That got me very excited!  Transplants have been used as a Type 1 treatment for a few years now, but necessitating very strong immunosuppressant drugs which can potentially cause many other issues.  With the encapsulation project, the transplanted cells are “protected” from the immune system in a small pouch made of a selectively permeable membrane that enables insulin to be released while protecting the insulin producing beta cells from being destroyed by the immune system.  This “pouch” would be surgically implanted under the skin and do the work of a healthy pancreas for up to 24 months.  This would mean no more blood sugar checks, no more calculating carbs and no more insulin injections for up to 2 years.  Words cannot fully explain the positive effect such a treatment would have on those playing the Type 1 game…  Seriously, although it is not a true cure, this would be a HUGE life changing discovery.
Such research is not cheap.  I can’t even imagine how much money was spent to get to this point.  The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has been partnering with Viacyte for this project.  Since 2007, the Mike’s Bike Shop cycling club have raised over $150,000 for JDRF, which is but a small portion of their budget but surely enough to make a big difference.  For this reason, I feel that I have personally contributed to getting this research project this close to the finish line.

On this last day of November, which is Diabetes awareness month, I would personally like to thank all those that have donated and worked so hard this year to help us raise $32,411 for JDRF in 2015 !!  THANK YOU  THANK YOU  THANK YOU !!  Your support and contribution are making a difference in the lives of those living with Type 1.