Diabetes cure within reach

The Daily Express
(c) 2014 Express Newspapers
by Giles Sheldrick

Experts confident they can wipe out the killer disease ‘Race is on. We could have cure in 20 years’.

DIABETES could be cured “within a generation” thanks to radical British-led research, a world expert claimed last night.

UK teams are leading the race against a disease which will hit 6.25 million people by 2035 – 10 per cent of the population – and already costs the NHS £1million an hour.

In an exclusive interview, Britain’s most respected diabetes researcher said he was confident the insulin-deficiency disease would be wiped out by the time he retires in 25 years.

Dr Nick Oliver, diabetes consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “There is a race on, that’s why what we are doing is incredibly exciting.”

Asked whether the disease could ever be cured he added: “I really hope so. I am reasonably early in my career and there is lots of really exciting work going on behind the scenes.

“There are lots of avenues that will lead to potential cures for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and if I could see it in my career that would be incredibly exciting.” He added: “Diabetes can’t be cured at the moment. The race is on to get effective treatments for people. Their quality of life is important.”

Dr Alasdair Rankin, director of research for Diabetes UK, said: “We think it is possible we could have a vaccine for Type 1 within 20 years.” Human trials have already started on the world’s first artificial pancreas, created by 39-year-old Dr Oliver’s team. It would offer sufferers of Type 1 diabetes, an auto immune disease, the most effective treatment available.

The Bio-Inspired Artificial Pancreas – BiAP – is attached to the abdomen via a thin tube. It reads sugar levels and sends information to an insulin pump which releases the hormone around the clock. This eliminates painful daily blood tests and injections. One researcher said: “We hope the technology will be the next best thing to a cure for the 400,000 people in the UK with Type 1 diabetes.” Jess Bristow, 46, of Surrey, one of 20 in the trial, said: “Since I’ve been using it my life is 100 times better.” In 2016 human trials are due to start on an artificial pancreas created at De Montfort University in Leicester which can be inserted into the body.

Type 2 diabetes is largely driven by lifestyle and linked to obesity. Tests are under way to discover whether a low-calorie liquid diet could be used to put Type 2 diabetes into remission. Almost four million Britons have diabetes, the most common cause of blindness in women aged between 15-34. It can also lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.