UPMC Children’s Hospital Researchers Working On ‘Groundbreaking’ Procedure To Cure Diabetes

UPMC Children’s Hospital Researchers Working On ‘Groundbreaking’ Procedure To Cure Diabetes


at Eat’n Park. 30 MILLION AMERICANS ARE LIVING WITH DIABETES AND HOPING THAT DAY THEY COULD BE CURED, AND THAT DAY COULD BE SOON. JULIE GRANT IS HERE WITH THE DETAILS ON A GROUNDBREAKING PROCEDURE THEY’RE TESTING AND WHAT IT COULD MEAN FOR DIABETIC PATIENTS. JULIE? Reporter: IF SUCCESSFUL, IT WOULD ALLOW A DIABETIC PATIENT TO REGULATE THEIR OWN BLOOD SUGAR WITHOUT THE NEED FOR INSULIN INJECTIONS. THESE COULD POSSIBLY DO WHAT HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE AND THIS IS CURE ALL TYPES OF DIABETES. WE’RE HEADED NOW INTO THE SPECIAL CULTURE AREA. Reporter: IT IS HISTORY IN THE MAKING. SHE IS WORKING WITH SOME CELLS. Reporter: AT THE RESEARCH CENTER AT UPMC CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL OF PITTSBURGH. THAT IS A GREAT COLONY. Reporter: THE SURGEON AND DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND HIS TEAM HAVE DISCOVERED A WAY TO PREPROGRAM CELLS IN THE PANCREAS. UNFORTUNATELY DIABETES THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE PAN KOREA MAKING — PANCREAS MAKING INSULIN. RATHER THAN GIVING SOMEONE CELLS WHICH MIGHT BE REJECTED, WE CAN INDUCE OR TWEAK THE EXISTING CELLS IN A DIABETIC PATIENT IN THE PANCREAS, TWEAK THEM INTO TURN ING INTO INSULIN CELLS. Reporter: THEY HAVE ENGINEERED A SAFE VIRUS THAT DOES GENE THERAPY. WE INFUSE THESE VIRUSES INTO THE PANCREATIC TISSUE AND IT PERMEATES THROUGH THE PANCREAS AND IT FINDS THE ONES THAT HAVE THE CAPABILITY TO TURN INTO INSULIN CELLS AND IT MAKES THAT HAM. Reporter: AN INFUSION PROCESS THAT DELIVERS THE VIRUS DIRECTLY TO THE PAN KOREA SO OTHER CELL MISS THE BODY ARE NOT AFFECTED. THE HUMAN YOU CAN GO DOWN THROUGH THE MOUTH INTO THE STOMACH AND DOWN THROUGH THE PANCREAS AND INFUSE THE VIRUS IN THE PANCREAS. Reporter: ONE INFUSION THAT COULD MEAN LONG-TERM RESULTS THAT COULD ALLOW A DIABETIC TO REPLACE THEIR OWN BLOOD SUGAR REPLACING THE NEED FOR INSULIN INJECTIONS. THE IDEA IS YOU DO A SINGLE INJECTIONS AND SEE A PERMANENT CHANGE IS VERY EXCITING. Reporter: A CLINICAL TRIAL FOR GENE THERAPY TO TREAT DIABETES HAS NEVER BEEN DONE. THE TEAM APPEARS TO BE CLOSER THAN EVER, ALREADY HAVING SUCCESS WITH BOTH MICE AND MONKEYS. ONCE WE GET A CONSISTENT RESULT WITH THE MONKEYS, WE WILL THEN GO TO THE FDA AND PRESENT THEM WITH THE TRIAL WE WANT TO DO IN DIABETIC PATIENTS AND MOVE ON FROM THERE. Reporter: YOU’RE PRETTY CLOSE? I WOULD SAY WE’RE PRETTY CLOSE, YEAH. Reporter: THIS MEANS CLOSER THAN PERHAPS EVER BEFORE TO A CURE, SOMETHING THAT GIVES REAL HOPE TO DIABETIC PATIENTS LIKE CHRISTA HOBBLE. TO BE FREE OF THAT THROUGH A CURE? I JUST — IT BLOWS MY MIND. IT WOULD BE AMAZING. Reporter: CRISTA IS A LIFE LONG ATHLETE. SHE’S CONSTANTLY TRAINING FOR OBSTACLE COURSE RACES IN HER SPARE TIME. HER FULL-TIME JOB INVOLVES PROTECTING AND SERVING. MISSING PERSONS. Reporter: CRISTA IS A PITTSBURGH POLICE DETECTIVE WHO INVESTIGATES CHILD ABUSE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES. BRING HIM IN. Reporter: AT WORK, THE GYM — THIS IS IT. Reporter: OR ANYWHERE. I USUALLY TAKE A LITTLE BIT OF GATORADE. Reporter: MANAGING HER TYPE ONE DIABETES IS HER OTHER FULL- TIME JOB. ONCE MY BODY STARTED TO EXERCISE, I FEEL IT DROPPING. Reporter: SHE CREDITS HER ILLNESS FOR TEACHING HER DISCIPLINE AND RESILIENCY. I THINK WITH ALL PEOPLE DIABETES THERE IS A CERTAIN DEGREE OF RESILIENCY THROUGH JUST THE MANAGEMENT PORTION OF IT AND I WONDER WHAT KIND OF ATHLETE I WOULD HAVE BEEN WITHOUT DIABETES BECAUSE I DO THINK IT INSTILLED AT YOUNG AGE — I HAD TO GROW UP QUICKLY, AND I HAD A CHRONIC ILLNESS AT THE AGE OF 10 THAT IS A LOT FOR A KID. THIS IS THE INSULIN PUMP AND USUALLY WHEN I’M WORKING OUT I’LL JUST THROW ANYTIME MY BACK POCKET. Reporter: HER POCKET OF ATTITUDE HELPS HER THROUGH THE DAYS THAT HAS HER ESPECIALLY EXHAUSTIVE. IN REALITY THERE IS NO BREAK. Reporter: FOR NOW. BUT IF THE DOCTOR’S RESEARCH TRANSLATES INTO PEOPLE, CRISTA MAY GET THAT BREAK. IT WOULD BE GROUNDBREAKING AND, I MEAN, HOPEFULLY I WOULD GET TO REAP THE BENEFITS OF THAT AT SOME POINT. IT WOULD BE AMAZING. I THINK I GET MORE EXCITED WHEN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT AND SEE THEIR EXCITEMENT. I WOULD LOVE TO DO THE CLINICAL TRIAL. Reporter: AND THE DOCTOR COULD BE THE DOCTOR. IT IS POSSIBLE. I HOPE THAT IS TRUE. Reporter: WHO CREATES THE CURE. VERY GOOD. Reporter: THIS INTERVENTION THAT THE DOCTOR AND HIS TEAM HAVE CREATED IS THE ONLY THING SO FAR THAT HAS SHOWN TO CURE DIABETES WITHOUT SUPRESSING A PATIENT’S IMMUNE SYSTEM. SO THIS IS REALLY EXCITING FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE GIVING PEOPLE REAL HOPE. OH, YEAH. WE NEED THAT FOR THIS. AND IS THERE A RISK? THERE MUST BE SOME SORT OF RISK TO THIS? Reporter: I ASKED THE DOCTOR AND HE SAID OTHER THAN SORT OF INFLAMMATION OF THE PANCREAS, THE BIGGEST RISK IS IT WOULDN’T WORK OR YOU WOULD NEED TO REPEAT THE PROCEDURE. THIS IS A QUESTION I ASKED OF CRISTA. WHAT IF YOU COULD HAVE THAT RELIEF FOR ONE WEEK, WOULD YOU DO IT? ABSOLUTELY. SO HOPEFULLY. YEAH. THIS WILL BE THE CURE OUT OF PITTSBURGH AND THAT TEAM WILL

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