Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dr. Denise Faustman, researcher

Since 1990, for unspecified reasons, I have been reading every day about diabetes. Over that time, I have followed diabetes research and treatment closely. I have learned a great deal about the illness, but I know very little about the actual science of the research.

Since about 2002 I have been reading extensively about ME/CFS and other immune dysfunction illnesses. Again, I have no scientific knowledge upon which to draw.

While I have no scientific or medical background, I believe that it is possible to gain a "feel" for these illnesses- diabetes and ME/CFS -  in spite of being scientifically ignorant. In both situations I have no built-in prejudices and have no vested economic or career interest in either field that might interfere with my judgements. In other words, I have no connection to the "Industry" of these illnesses. Most importantly I have always tried to connect to gifted people who can flesh out my own "insufficiencies".

Years ago I was privileged to meet Al Mann, the founder of Minimed. With his small, flexible and innovative company, Minimed, Al Mann greatly improved the maintenance possibilities of diabetic patients. Al Mann was an amazing man who cared deeply about patients - and it was a sad day when Minimed was sucked up by the large Minnesota company, Medtronic.

Early on, in learning about diabetes. I stumbled upon the work of Dr. Richard Bernstein. At the time Dr. Bernstein and his ideas about diet and diabetes were highly discredited by mainstream endocrinologists. Since that time, Dr. Bernstein's ideas have gained great currency. His book can be purchased here. There are intimations of Dr. Bernstein's ideas in Dr. Joseph Burrascano's imploring Lyme patients to ditch the carbs.

Diabetes, at the moment, is a maintenance illness. With slightly more information, perhaps ME/CFS can reach this status? More needs to be known about the etiology of ME/CFS.

In this post I am unable to list all the diabetes researchers that I admire and follow. Instead I would like to focus on one of them: Dr. Denise Faustman of Massachusetts General Hospital. I have written a previous blog post on Dr. Faustman here.

Dr. Faustman is back in the news this week with a very small, early stage paper publication in PLoS ONE.  The proposed treatment, a relatively safe tuberculosis vaccine in use for eighty years, is apt to yield no profits for the pharmaceutical industry.

The hope is that this vaccine can shut down the autoimmune reaction in type 1 diabetes (and perhaps other autoimmune illnesses). Perhaps ME/CFS researchers Mella, Fluge, Peterson, and Kolgenik are reading about Dr. Faustman's work? I certainly hope so.

Several articles on Dr. Faustman's paper can be found here and here.

From the Bloomberg article:

"Faustman and her colleagues at Massachusetts General in Boston are working to get the vaccine to market. After their early findings in studies with mice, she said they tried to interest every major drug maker in developing the vaccine as a possible cure for diabetes. All told her there wasn't enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine, Faustman said."

This publication is very exciting news for those interested in a solution for type 1 diabetes. However major questions rear their ugly heads. Why is there so much resistance to this research? Why is Dr. Faustman so isolated with this research after so many years? Who is going to finance further research? In the big picture, these questions are disturbing - and yet they are so familiar, familiar also to those who know the history of research into ME/CFS.

Dr. Faustman outlines her research and answers some pressing questions in several youtube videos, the first from 2012, the second from the year before.

Dr. Faustman is a very impressive researcher. She does not look like she is going to be dislodged from pursuing her interests. She gives me hope that there are other individuals out there looking for unique solutions to complicated medical questions - and specifically that there will be some spill-over into ME/CFS/lyme diseases.


  1. While drug companies might not be interested at this time, I was impressed to learn that some ALS patients are conducting their own clinical trial and capturing their data using

    You can read about it here:

    With Dr. Faustman at MGH in Boston and Patientlikeme headquarters in Cambridge (across the Charles River), perhaps there might be diabetic patients interested in conducting such a study.

    Thanks for posting this! Finding solutions often occur serendipitously.

    ~ JT

  2. Thank you for your blog. As you know, Dr. Faustman's diabetes research might also help people with other auto-immune diseases such as MLS. She is almost 2/3 of the way to the $25 million she needs for Phase II Clinical Trials. I had the honor of meeting her in Boston and was very impressed. This will be a challenge--several scientists have cured diabetes in mice but there's a way to go. Please keep up the good work!