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Advances in Juvenile Diabetes
By theParklande / November, December, 2011

More than one million Americans have type 1 juvenile diabetes, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Actor and diabetes activist Kevin Kline explains what it's like to have a son with the disease. "Families take on tremendous responsibility, depending on the age of their child," Kline said in an interview with CNN. "They count every carb, watch activities... injections, and prick their fingers up to ten times a day... It's like having a newborn. You have to check your child (day and night)." The disease strikes suddenly, requiring those with the disease to inject insulin for life. Juvenile diabetes carries the constant threat of complications. There is no cure.

Actor and diabetes activist Kevin Kline explains what it's like to have a son with the disease. "Families take on tremendous responsibility, depending on the age of their child," Kline said in an interview with CNN. "They count every carb, watch activities... injections, and prick their fingers up to ten times a day... It's like having a newborn. You have to check your child (day and night)."

A diabetic person's pancreas produces little or no insulin. Although causes are not known, scientists think the body's immune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

To help in the efforts of research and funding, Massachusetts resident Tommy Solo, then eight, who suffered type 1 diabetes, launched the JDRF Children's Congress twelve years ago. He learned his parents had planned to go to Washington, D.C., to lobby for increased research funding. Solo said, "Why should adults go to Congress to ask for funding? Kids with diabetes should go and tell them what it's like, because we know better than anyone. Maybe then they'll hurry up and help us find a cure."

In June, Kline urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to accelerate research on a new artificial pancreas system. The hearing, before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs was part of the JDRF 2011 Children's Congress. The group reminds legislators of the important role they play in research, finding, a cure, treatment and prevention. Kline joined 150 children delegates with type 1 diabetes, ages four to seventeen, representing 50 states. There were seven delegate students from Florida.

On September 21, the JDRF submitted written comments to the FDA on its "draft guidance for testing and approval" of a low glucose suspend (LGS) system. It is a version of an insulin pump that suspends insulin delivery when a monitor indicates a person with diabetes has or is projected to have dangerously low glucose levels.

These systems are the first step toward an artificial pancreas, a device that could transform the lives of diabetics. Without FDA approval of the new pancreas system, American children with type 1 diabetes will experience a drastic reduction in quality of life and a lifespan shortened by 15 years, according to the JDRF.

This technology is already available in more than forty nations. The JDRF commended the FDA's efforts, but strongly warned that current guidance is unreasonable and will further delay the availability of this life-saving technology. "There are tremendous strides on the research front," Dr. Aaron Kowalski, a diabetes specialist, told the FDA. "Research shows these (pancreas) devices in the near term will help us get there. But we need the FDA to act."




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