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Tablet treatment could end child diabetes, says researcher

In the lab of the Department of Experimental Medicine based at the University of Leuven, Belgium, directed by Professor Chantal Mathieu, coordinator of the Naimit project. © Lut Overbergh
In the lab of the Department of Experimental Medicine based at the University of Leuven, Belgium, directed by Professor Chantal Mathieu, coordinator of the Naimit project. © Lut Overbergh

An experimental tablet treatment for child diabetes, where youngsters have traditionally had to inject themselves with sugar controlling insulin, could end up eradicating the disease altogether, according to the scientist leading the European NAIMIT project.

‘We will see the day in the not-too-distant future when we’ll eradicate the disease completely,’ said Professor Chantal Mathieu, based at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

The treatment was originally devised as a way to control the progression of the disease without using injections.

Type-1 diabetes, traditionally termed ‘juvenile diabetes’ because a majority of cases were in children, also affects adults and usually requires that the sufferer injects themselves with insulin several times each day as their body often stops being able to produce the blood sugar controlling hormone.

So far, the new treatment has been tested on mice, but Prof. Mathieu believes it will soon start benefiting youngsters.

‘The first tests on humans will start very shortly,’ she said.

Type-1 diabetes affects about two million people in the European Union and it is growing at a rate of about 3 % per year. It is often caused by genetic susceptibility, unlike the most common form of the disease, known as Type-2 diabetes, which can results from a lifestyle of unhealthy food and lack of exercise.

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