The topic of this portion of the interview with Dr. Faustman centers around the issues “benign disease removal” and “spontaneous regeneration of islet cells.”
I asked Dr. Faustman if she had done work on islet cell transplantation. She said that early in her research she did, but found that once diseased T cells, the ones attacking healthy islets, are removed, the islets spontaneously regenerate, potentially voiding the need for transplantation.
I must say in Dr. Faustman’s defense that she is not anti-transplantation. In fact, she indicated support for it. However, her approach would largely negate the need. In other words, it appears that islet regeneration, at least what she has seen to date with end-stage animal experiments, is only dependent upon disease removal – “self” healing follows.
I inquired as to whether any of her findings might have bearing on type 2 diabetes. Interestingly, she said there could be possible implications, and that although the disease-removing treatment for type 1 diabetes will have no benefit for type 2 diabetes, the discovery of regeneration and adult islet regeneration is of potential benefit to type 2 diabetics.
Finally, I inquired about time lines for completion of her research and when a theraputic treatment might be available in the marketplace. She indicated the first arm of her research, the one related to the memory T cells and use of BCG, could be completed inside of ten years. Much of it depends on the human clinical trials, and those are dependent on developing the blood assay test we discussed earlier. Once the first leg is complete, Dr. Faustman seemed hopeful the second arm could move more quickly.
Our next and final installment is going to focus on the funding issues and what is being done to fund her research.