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Could Twins Hold the Key?
With all the hype and hostility toward type 2 diabetes (the generally preventable form linked to obesity), type 1 diabetes is often left out of the discussion. Type 1 diabetes usually starts in childhood and can have life-threatening symptoms, as 13-year-old twin sisters Ali and Marissa Newman know all too well.
Three years ago, Ali started losing weight and sleeping more. At first, her parents and friends thought she had an eating disorder. Eventually, she became so worn down one night, she was too weak to get out of bed and could barely breathe. Ali’s family rushed her to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening condition caused by extremely high blood sugar creates an imbalance in blood chemicals. It was official: Ali had type 1 diabetes. The family soon learned that her sister Marissa was at an increased risk for type 1, even as a fraternal twin. Identical twins have more than a 50% risk of developing the condition if one twin has it.
Knowing that she was at an increased risk for the disease, Marissa offered to be part of research to prevent type 1 diabetes. The study is trying to see if it can make the body slowly accept insulin rather than attacking it. Although a similar study was done before with little success, researchers are excited this time around because they’re putting it to use in those who are most at risk, such as Marissa.
We thought this was pretty awesome of Marissa to serve as a guinea pig for diabetes research, especially if it means helping her sister. Would you be willing to enroll in a health study to help a family member? [The New York Times]
Definitely. I feel if there was greater awareness of these types of research studies that more people would participate.