Curing or preventing complex diseases is one of the most ambitious medical goals out there. Since the late 1990s, researchers have been trying—and mostly failing—to accomplish this in type 1 diabetes, an immune disease that destroys cells in the pancreas that make insulin and that mostly strikes children. This summer, a slew of new studies reported results on efforts to shift the balance of cells in the immune system in hopes of keeping disease at bay. The results show just how tough it is to intervene successfully. Why is it so difficult to get from a scientific discovery to a new drug? Is preventing disease harder or easier than treating patients who already have it? What does the road ahead look like?
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Jay S. Skyler
Jay S. Skyler, M.D., M.A.C.P., joined the University of Miami in 1976, where he is currently a professor of medicine, pediatrics, and psychology. His research interests are in clinical aspects of diabetes, particularly improving the care of type 1 diabetes through meticulous glycemic control, psychosocial and behavioral support, and immune intervention.
Jeffrey Bluestone, PhD, was appointed executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), March 2010, having served in a number of posts including Director, UCSF Diabetes Center and the Immune Tolerance Network and as interim vice chancellor—research.