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Diabetes research is leading to groundbreaking discoveries. Great advancements are being made to treat or cure a disease, which has become the fourth leading cause of death. Over 240 Million people have diabetes globally. Currently there is no available cure for diabetes. Insulin injections are a life saving control measure. They give diabetics the hormone they need to convert blood sugar into cellular energy.
One of the more promising diabetes research breakthroughs occurred at the University of Calgary. Scientists are working at growing pancreatic cells in the laboratory. They hope to be able to create a steady supply of insulin producing cells to transplant into seriously ill diabetic patients.
A number of years ago another diabetes research team at the University of Alberta was successful in transplanting these islet cells that produce insulin. Many patients were free from insulin injections five years after the transplant. The drawback is that they need to use cells from at least three donor cadavers to have enough for one transplant.
Many more people would be able to receive a transplant if scientists are successful using a bioreactor to grow many more. The team of Calgary scientists claim to have produced human tissue which would save type one diabetics from having to inject multiple insulin treatments every day.
Another exciting team looking at diabetes research is a so called international dream team of 16 researchers from 13 different institutions. They hope to speed up therapies and the search for a possible cure for type one diabetes. Type one diabetes was formerly called Juvenile diabetes.
More than 19 million people suffer from type one diabetes. This occurs in childhood or youth, when the pancreas fails to produce any insulin. Insulin is a hormone that our bodies use to convert glucose into energy. Without it, the sugar builds up in the blood stream and can lead to some serious consequences. High glucose levels are related to kidney disease, blindness and even amputations. Obviously, diabetes research is important for a large number of people. In fact, about 20 per cent of the population in developed countries may have type two diabetes. This is when the body cannot effectively produce and use insulin.
Current diabetes research being conducted into type two includes looking at the link between a hormone secreted by fat cells, and diabetes. This fat cell hormone seems to make other cells insulin resistant. There are already clear links between obesity and diabetes. Diabetes research has found that even losing ten pounds can help type two diabetics control their blood glucose levels.
Diabetes researchers have also found that genetics play an important role. People with a close family member with diabetes may be more prone to diabetes as well. However, a single gene does not cause type two diabetes. This creates another challenge in diabetes research. Age is another risk factor. People over 40 are more likely to develop the condition. Scientists also know that people of Hispanic, Asian, African and Aboriginal descent have a higher tendency to develop diabetes. Environmental factors can also play a big part.
Diabetes research is making great strides. Diabetes research originally led to the discovery of insulin itself. Right now, administering insulin and monitoring blood glucose are two key components of a diabetes management plan. Lifestyle factors like weight, diet and exercise also play a big role in helping you control your blood sugar, while diabetes research continues in a search for a cure.