Research translates into real life benefits for diabetics

Scientists and doctors haven't yet found a cure for Diabetes, but research has improved the lives of people living with the disease.

When people contribute to the fight against diabetes by participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation walk, for example, they are helping in ways that may not seem obvious. We talked with some folks who've witnesses research go from the laboratory into the real world and improve people's lives.

Bob Gilmore of Brooklyn, Mich. remembers when he was first diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. Back then the diagnosis was grim.

"It was 1967 and I was probably about 22-years-old," Gilmore said. "The doctor said ‘you'll probably have circulation problems you'll probably have nerve problems, you'll probably have problems with your eyes, you might go blind, and there's a good chance because of circulation that you'll lose a leg or foot or both of them."

The diabetes treatment has come a long way over the last half-century and Gilmore's reality is far better than that initial prognosis.

"Fifty years ago I was told id be blind and I'm 70 years old now and I'm not," he said "Early on I realized the benefit of research."

That research is done by people like Dr. Rodica Pop-Busui, a University of Michigan diabetes specialist. .

Short of finding a cure, managing major complications remains essential for treating the disease. That's the goal of a project Dr. Pop-Busui is working on. Early research found elevated uric acid levels, common in Gout, predisposed diabetics to developing kidney failure.

"Disease is a very important chronic complication of diabetes," Dr. Pop-Busui said. "This observation was the initial trigger for designing an initial pilot study that was funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation."

JDRF initiated the funding for the pilot study, which then allowed the National Institute of Health to fund a multi-site expansion of the study to include treating actual patients.

"Translation into human research is the most rewarding because then we can really see whether what we are initially saw in animal or cell culture truly applies to humans," she said.

For more information about the Preventing Early Renal Loss in Diabetes (PERL) on the U of M medical school's website or by contacting Ginny Leone, Recruitment Coordinator, at vleone@umich.edu or by calling (734) 936-8656.