Thursday, February 22, 2007

Medical grade pigs being raised to help cure diabetes

Some background information about diabetes (from wikipedia):
There are 3 main types of diabetes. "Type 1 is usually due to autoimmune destruction of the pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin. Type 2 is characterized by tissue-wide insulin resistance and varies widely; it sometimes progresses to loss of beta cell function. Gestational diabetes is similar to type 2 diabetes, in that it involves insulin resistance. The hormones of pregnancy cause insulin resistance in those women genetically predisposed to developing this condition. Types 1 and 2 are incurable chronic conditions, but have been treatable since insulin became medically available in 1921. Gestational diabetes typically resolves with delivery." is an organization that is sponsoring a very special pig farm. "The 21,000 square-foot bio-secure building will be home to approximately 100 high-health, 'medical-grade' pigs. Pancreatic islet cells from those pathogen-free pigs will be used for transplantation into diabetes patients in clinical trials. "

Diabetes is a huge problem, with lots of nasty sequelae: "There are 20.8 million people in the United States, or 7 percent of the population, who have diabetes. Diabetes alone represents 11 percent of the nation's health care expenditure."

It's a long shot, but if it works, it will change the world.

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