Jorge Balderas has been riding his bike toward his hometown in Mexico since November 4th, stopping along the way raise awareness for the Chicago Diabetes Project and how the need for a cure is critical. Follow his progress via facebook at Tour de Diabetes Cure
When: Saturday, December 7th (11am open bar, 1 mile race 1:00pm, and an afternoon of Santa mayhem!)
Where: Shenanigans, 16 W. Division Street, Chicago
Who: All elves, reindeer, santas…
Attire: speedos and swimsuits encouraged… snowpants, sweatshirts, and parkas completely acceptable! Wear your best costume underneath and at the stroke of 1pm, we will strip down to the speedos and get our run on! Please note while speedos are encouraged, you don’t have to run or wear a speedo…as long as its festive!
Open bar starts at 11am and lasts 3 hours. $50 cover charge inludes domestic bottles and well drinks, and a Speedo Run Mug and Santa Hat.
Flip Cup tourney, raffle, prizes, contest and North Pole dancing!
All proceeds go to the Chicago Diabetes Project!
Darren Weissman aka Doctor Dribble ran the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and ING NYC Marathon while dribbling two basketballs the ENTIRE time! Check out an exclusive interview with Darren after his completion of the ING NYC Marathon.]]>
Bernie just had his 3rd Diaversary…his family is helping to raise money for a cure by selling some very cool t-shirts. If you have the means, please buy one. You’ll help save lives and look really awesome wearing it! Order online at www.journeytoacure.storenvy.com.]]>
Kirstie Danielson, assistant professor of medicine and public health.
Minimally invasive islet transplantation for patients with type 1 diabetes achieves insulin independence and reverses the progression of atherosclerosis in the first few years after transplant, according to a University of Illinois at Chicago study.
The research is published in the February issue of the journal Diabetes Care and is available online.
Patients with diabetes, particularly women, have a substantial increased risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, according to previous research. However, future cardiac events may be prevented with intensive glycemic control.
In the current longitudinal study, UIC researchers looked at changes over time in carotid intima-media thickness, or CIMT — a marker for atherosclerosis — in a group of type 1 diabetes patients without kidney disease or previous cardiovascular events.
“This is the first study to look at what happens to diabetes-related cardiovascular complications after islet cell transplantation alone without kidney transplant,” said Kirstie Danielson, assistant professor in the UIC College of Medicine and School of Public Health, and lead author of the study, who noted that previous research has focused on metabolic changes and glycemic control after transplant.
The 15 adults (two men and 13 women) suffered from type 1 diabetes for more than five years and had hypoglycemic unawareness despite best efforts to manage insulin levels. The patients received a total of 27 islet transplants (one to three transplants each) and were followed from one to five years after their first transplant. CIMT was measured before and approximately every 12 months after the first islet transplant.
The researchers found a significant decrease in CIMT one year after islet transplant. The CIMT measures started to progress again — slightly more than they would in healthy individuals without diabetes — between 12 and 50 months. At 50 months, post-transplant the CIMT measures were still lower than pre-transplant levels, Danielson said.
“The decline of CIMT we saw at one year is not generally seen in patients with diabetes,” said Danielson, who attributes the improvements to better glycemic control achieved through islet transplantation and better management of cholesterol, or lipid levels, post-transplant.
All 15 patients achieved insulin independence after receiving one to three islet transplants at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System. At the end of the current study, 11 patients were insulin free, three remained on insulin but at greatly reduced doses, and one patient withdrew from the trial because of islet graft loss.
The next step would be to replicate these results in a larger trial, Danielson said.
Co-authors include Dr. Jose Oberholzer, Dr. Enrico Benedetti, Dr. Alessandra Mele, Dr. Meirigeng Qi, Joan Martellotto and Katie Kinzer from the UIC College of Medicine, Dr. Betul Hatipoglu from the Clevelend Clinic, and Dr. Bruce Kaplan from the University of Arizona.
The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System provides comprehensive care, education and research to the people of Illinois and beyond. The UI Health System includes a 495-bed tertiary hospital; the University of Illinois at Chicago Colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Applied Health Sciences, School of Public Health and the Jane Addams College of Social Work; 22 outpatient clinics located in Chicago; 12 federally qualified health centers throughout the city; and Colleges of Medicine and affiliated health care facilities in Urbana, Peoria and Rockford.
For more information: The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System.]]>
Participating in a marathon is a pretty amazing feat for anyone, but five people taking part in the 26.2-mile Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7 share something that makes this amazing feat extra special: all of them were formerly dependent on insulin, but have had an islet cell transplant and are now living their lives diabetes-free!
Islet cell transplantation is what connects the five together as members of the athletic team Cellmates On The Run (!), going after the opportunity to compete in marathons, triathlons and other endurance fitness events together. In addition to the Chicago Marathon, Cellmates will also participate in the Chicago Half Marathon in September and the NYC Marathon in November!
Aside from the fact that it’s so cleverly named, the team serves as a research funding mechanism for the Chicago Diabetes Project (CDP) headquartered at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Services. A global collaboration of scientists working on islet cell transplants, encapsulation, and new cell creation, the CDP is modeled after the Human Genome Project and has conducted 10 islet cell transplants in Phase I clinical trials since the program began in 2004.
So far, all of the transplant patients successfully came off insulin.
As the only program of its kind, the CDP helps raise money for its research by recruiting transplant recipients to be a part of the Cellmates team. Founded in 2009, the team has a total of 180 runners, ranging in age from 17 to 70 and including beginner athletes and experienced marathoners. Team organizers estimate about half of the team has a specific D-connection, with about 10% being type 1 PWDs — including the five islet transplant recipients who are technically not type 1s anymore! — and about 40% being people who have family or friends with diabetes.
While only 10 have gone through this Chicago-based research trial, hundreds of patients across the U.S. and globally have had these Islet cell transplants done in the past few years. This procedure, which is still in the clinical trial phase, is currently the only way to “cure” a PWD. But it’s not a complete cure because there are a lot of imperfections to the process. Most importantly, anyone undergoing this procedure must be on lifelong immuno-suppressant drugs to keep the autoimmune system from destroying the foreign islet cells.
Also, there’s the sourcing issue. For the average PWD, it takes 2-3 pancreases obtained from cadavers (organ donors) to do an islet cell transplantation. Several pancreases are needed per procedure because islet cells are incredibly fragile and many of them are destroyed in the transplant process. Keep in mind that there are only approximately 15,000 cadaveric pancreases available in the country each year — definitely not enough to cure everyone with diabetes! This is one of the reasons behind the push for using embryonic stem cells to create islet cells.
The procedure itself takes just about an hour, and is basically a “big injection” into the portal vein of the liver, done while the patient is awake but drowsy. You can read the details of how it’s done here.
The Chicago Diabetes Project, along with other research centers, is working on ways to transplant the islets into patients without the need for immuno-suppressant drugs. Because of the low number of available islet cells and the dangers of the drugs, not just any PWD can get a transplant. PWDs who wish to be part of the studies must demonstrate that their quality of life with the disease is currently very poor, and that living with diabetes (because of hypoglycemia unawareness or other complications) is worse than the dangers that come from a transplantation procedure.
Suzi Johnson, transplant patient
Such is the case for Suzi Johnson, a 55-year-old transplant recipient and runner for Cellmates, who says that the Chicago Diabetes Project changed her life after she developed hypoglycemia unawareness.
“The severe blood sugar swings left me both physically and emotionally drained and occurred without any warning that a life-threatening condition existed,” explained Suzi, who was diagnosed 18 years ago at age 37. “When friends and family became apprehensive about leaving me alone, I feared that I was soon going to lose my independence or, the worst-case scenario, my life.”
Suzi researched her options and discovered the CDP, a four-hour drive from her home in Decatur, IL. After applying and being accepted into the trial, she received her islet transplantation in 2007 and has been completely off insulin ever since.
“I have energy and zest for life now that enables me to get up early four times per week to walk or jog 15 to 20 miles per week, and I intend to increase that a little each week in preparation for the marathon,” Suzi says. “Being free from insulin has given me such confidence that I quit my 20-year paralegal career to follow my passion and open my own dog boutique. I help people train dogs and I show dogs in both obedience and the sport of agility. Life is good!”
If you happen to be interested in joining the Cellmates team, you don’t need to be a hardcore marathon runner, either. One of the transplant recipients, 67-year-old Judith-Rae Ross, who was diagnosed with type 1 in 1979, is walking the Chicago Marathon to support the research that changed her life.
“Walking the marathon proved to me that I’m not a diabetes hostage anymore,” explains Judith, who received her transplant in 2009. “I’m living an exciting, insulin-free life. I’m walking the marathon again because I want to be a foot soldier for the cure. If my walking helps raise money, then I’ll tromp the 26.2 whenever Dr. Oberholzer asks me to do so.
Support the Cellmates?
There’s still time to be a part of Cellmates on the Run and take part in the Chicago Marathon!
The team is accepting new participants until Sept. 1, and all new runners (or marathon walkers) will need to raise a minimum of $1,000. But if you’re not up for a marathon, you can still support the research by donating to the team. All of the donated money goes directly to the research. Last year, the Cellmates team raised a total of $300,000 and they’re shooting for $500,000 this year!
That seems to us like money well spent to support a cause they call a “functional cure” for diabetes. Right now, islet cell transplantation is the only thing that has taken a PWD off insulin for an extended period of time. Sure, there’s no guarantee that the islets will last forever. We know that the immune response doesn’t just stop once it’s attacked the islet cells at diagnosis, so it’s still there running the background (marathon pun intended).
But this is promising research that has so much potential! We hope researchers at institutions like CDP are able to find better ways to source islet cells, transplant the cells more efficiently, and safer ways to protect the islets from our immune systems.]]>