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Leading diabetes researchers in Roanoke: Can new treatments reverse the disease's progress?

Published On: Nov 07 2013 06:30:00 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 08 2013 07:46:15 PM EST

Researchers working to make life better for diabetics

There is no cure for diabetes, but is there a way to halt or even reverse its progress?
Two leading researchers in diabetes are speaking in Roanoke.

Work is being done to find treatments that can halt or even reverse the progression of the disease, said Dr. Jerry Nadler, M.D. Director of the Eastern Virginia Medical School Strelitz Diabetes Center. and the Harry H. Mansbach Chair in Internal Medicine.

" If you can catch it early enough before all the cells are destroyed you can halt the progress of the destruction and keep people maybe if not off insulin, then  a reduced amount of insulin," said Dr.  Nadler.

Dr. Nadler said his team is researching a combination of two treatments: one that stops the disease and another that helps regrow insulin producing cells.  They hope to move into human trials soon, he said.

Perhaps the most exciting research: Dr. Nadler said is that researchers may be on the verge of finding out what triggers Type 1 diabetes, often called juvenile diabetes.

"The idea is it might be a virus, even a common virus, that some people get exposed to and never get into problems, but some people because of their genetic background or whatever, it triggers the immune reaction and the body destroys the insulin cells," said Dr. Nadler.  "If we can figure out what virus is causing it then you can develop a vaccine so you never get it."

Dr. Nadler also stressed the importance of healthy eating to help control diabetes and heart disease (that's often associated with diabetes.) He recommends a Mediterranean diet that includes green leafy vegetables, nuts, olive oil and high fiber whole grains.

The researchers are from Eastern Virginia Medical School's Strelitz Diabetes Center.   Dr. Nadler and Dr. Aaron I. Vinik will speak at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and School of Medicine Thursday evening.  The program is sponsored by the Cosmopolitan Club of Roanoke and The Greater Blue Ridge Chapter of JDRF.

Friday on WDBJ7 and here on we'll learn more about Dr. Vinik's research into diabetes.