“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.
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.
"Yes, it's a frustrating case," Darkes told Live Science in an email. "But the doctors have to be as accurate as they can be with what's happened, so they've given a 2-year time scale for completed type 1 reversal." Darkes explained that if he can go without insulin injections for two years, his doctors will be 100 percent sure his diabetes is gone.
The gastric bypass that Benari got, for instance, resculpts the digestive system. Surgeons seal off a large part of the stomach using staples, leaving behind a small upper pouch, while rerouting part of the small intestine to the new pouch, bypassing the rest. The net result is that less food can fit in the stomach, and there’s much less time for that food to be turned into calories before it exits the body. The vertical sleeve gastrectomy, the most popular surgery in recent years, only tinkers with the stomach, using staples to turn it into a small banana-shaped organ. (There are less permanent procedures, such as the lap band, but these have fallen out of favor due to their ineffectiveness).
The WHO estimates that diabetes mellitus resulted in 1.5 million deaths in 2012, making it the 8th leading cause of death. However another 2.2 million deaths worldwide were attributable to high blood glucose and the increased risks of cardiovascular disease and other associated complications (e.g. kidney failure), which often lead to premature death and are often listed as the underlying cause on death certificates rather than diabetes. For example, in 2014, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated that diabetes resulted in 4.9 million deaths worldwide, using modeling to estimate the total number of deaths that could be directly or indirectly attributed to diabetes.
The bionic pancreas is another project from Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital in a joint effort to create a bionic pancreas, a type of artificial pancreas which not only includes insulin but also glucagon to raise blood sugar. The system is intended to use an algorithm that checks every 5 minutes to calculate the amount of insulin or glucagon needed. The project has recently formed into a public benefit corporation called Beta Bionics. This newer structure allows it to serve not just shareholders, but also the public good. Beta Bionics also became the first American company to raise over a $1 million from small investors under new public investing rules!
You should have no more than three of these “feeding times” per day. The reason limiting the number and duration of your meal times is so important has to do with staying out of the vicious cycle of increasing insulin resistance. To get smart on insulin resistance — the cause of both type 2 diabetes and obesity — read Dr. Jason Fung’s book, The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss, or watch his free lecture on YouTube.
Diabetic ketoacidosis can be caused by infections, stress, or trauma, all of which may increase insulin requirements. In addition, missing doses of insulin is also an obvious risk factor for developing diabetic ketoacidosis. Urgent treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis involves the intravenous administration of fluid, electrolytes, and insulin, usually in a hospital intensive care unit. Dehydration can be very severe, and it is not unusual to need to replace 6-7 liters of fluid when a person presents in diabetic ketoacidosis. Antibiotics are given for infections. With treatment, abnormal blood sugar levels, ketone production, acidosis, and dehydration can be reversed rapidly, and patients can recover remarkably well.
Family or personal history. Your risk increases if you have prediabetes — a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes. You're also at greater risk if you had gestational diabetes during a previous pregnancy, if you delivered a very large baby or if you had an unexplained stillbirth.