But does Darkes' story really mean type 1 diabetes can be cured? Darkes declined to provide his medical records, and the experts Live Science spoke to said there were several missing or confusing pieces of information in his story. Usually, incredible medical stories like this one are reported as case reports in the medical literature, the experts said. And even if the details of his story can ultimately be confirmed, the experts emphasized that it's extremely unlikely that Darkes' case would lead to a widespread cure for type 1 diabetes, as reports in the media have wrongly suggested.
Type I diabetes usually occurs in people who are below the age 20 and that is why it is also called as juvenile diabetes. In this type, the body becomes partially or completely unable to produce insulin. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease. In this, your immune system attacks the pancreas from where the insulin is produced, thereby making the pancreas inefficient or unable to produce insulin. Type I diabetes cannot be prevented, it can only be controlled with healthy lifestyle changes.
Efforts to cure or stop type 1 diabetes are still in the early stages, and these approaches will also not be suitable for people that have already lost their insulin-producing cells. A solution could be the creation of an “artificial pancreas” — a fully automated system that can measure glucose levels and inject the right amount of insulin into the bloodstream, just like a healthy pancreas would.
Type 1 and type 2 diabetes were identified as separate conditions for the first time by the Indian physicians Sushruta and Charaka in 400–500 CE with type 1 associated with youth and type 2 with being overweight. The term "mellitus" or "from honey" was added by the Briton John Rolle in the late 1700s to separate the condition from diabetes insipidus, which is also associated with frequent urination. Effective treatment was not developed until the early part of the 20th century, when Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Herbert Best isolated and purified insulin in 1921 and 1922. This was followed by the development of the long-acting insulin NPH in the 1940s.
“Diabetes type 1 is very different from your standard disease. Insulin requirements vary greatly from one day to another and there is no way patients can know what they need,” Roman Hovorka, Professor at the University of Cambridge, explained to me during an interview. His research group is working on the development of an algorithm that can accurately predict insulin requirements for a specific patient at any moment.
Diabetes is a disease in which your blood glucose, or blood sugar, levels are too high. Glucose comes from the foods you eat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose get into your cells to give them energy. With type 1 diabetes, your body does not make insulin. With type 2 diabetes, the more common type, your body does not make or use insulin well. Without enough insulin, the glucose stays in your blood. You can also have prediabetes. This means that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes. Having prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of getting type 2 diabetes.