How hard are companies trying?
There are those who believe that the drug industry is withholding a cure for diabetes since there are greater profits from treating it than there would be from a cure, reports Allison Blass on the website www.healthline.com. Some people holdthe same view about cancer.
Cure skeptics or “conspiracy theorists” point out that drug companies profit tremendously from continuing sales of insulin int its varying slow-acting and fast-acting forms; oral diabetes medicines for milder cases; and related devices and technology, including electronic glucose monitors and insulin pumps. They argue that, without a cure, diabetes patients and their insurers are a captive market permanently spending for the drug industry’s products.
Since both Type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease, and the highly prevalent Type 2 that stems from diet, obesity and lifestyle are growing rapidly, the market is just too lucrative for the drug companies to surrender and replace with a one-time cure, some people say.
In response, both researchers and pharma industry observers note that there has never been any evidence for suppression of a cure, and “spillover benefits” for the company that develops one would bring increased prestige and greater demand for all of tis products.
Another consideration is the cost and effort involved in creating a new drug and bringing it to market. Costs for developing a new drug now exceed a billion dollars, and before new legislation passed in 2016 to speed up the FDA approval process, this took 7 to 9 years.
Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working jointly on a cure for Type 1 diabetes, Sarah Knapton writes on the website www.telegraph.co.uk. This is the less prevalent type that results when the body attacks its own pancreatic beta cells and they cannot produce insulin. It usually occurs in childhood. MIT researchers have succeeded in producing large amounts of insulin-making beta cells using stem cells and implanting them in mice.
“These results lay the groundwork for future human studies using these formulations with the goal of achieving lon g-term replacement therapy for Type 1 diabetes. We believe the cells have the potential to provide diabetics with a new pancreas that is protected from the immune system, which could allow them to control their blood sugar,” says Dr. Daniel Anderson, biology professor at MIT.
Julia Greenstein, vice president of research at JDRF, adds, “they effectively establish long-term insulin independence and eliminate the daily burden of managing the disease…we hope to see this research progress into human clinical trials.”
Meanwhile, Jack Woodfield, in www.diabetes.co.uk, reports that the City of Hope in California is independently seeking a cure for Type 1 with the goal of finding it within 6 years. Funded by $50 million from donor Wanek Family Project for Type 1 Diabetes, the effort will be multifaceted: investigating patients’ immune systems to learn why their bodies destroy beta cells; transplanting bioengineered beta cells and extending their lifespan in the body; and reversing complications of diabetes.
“It’s something we call personalized medicine or precision medicine, which is very much in vogue in cancer. That means we need to understand where patients differ and then tailor the immune therapies to their specific needs,” says Dr. Bart Roep, research director at City of Hope.
While these academics and research loci are nonprofit, this does not make the conspiracy theorists’ case, since they have no bottom line, investors or financial survival to consider, and they provide and obvious alternative that would keep pharma from getting away with concealing a cure.