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VERIFY: No, Congressman Schweikert, there isn't a cure for diabetes

In order to verify whether there is a cure, 12 News analyzed information from the Diabetes Research Institute, American Diabetes Association and a clinical trial.

ARIZONA, USA — As Congress passed a bill to cap insulin costs at $35 per month, Arizona’s Republican Representatives voted against the plan while the state’s Democrats supported it. 

In defense of his “no” vote, Congressman David Schweikert (R) of Scottsdale said there is already a cure for type 1 diabetes and that Congress should focus on getting that cure to patients instead of building more clinics and passing subsidies to lower the cost of insulin. 

THE QUESTION: 

Is there a cure for type 1 diabetes? 

THE SOURCES:

  • Diabetes Research Institute
  • The American Diabetes Association
  • A clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals involving stem cells mentioned by Schweikert

In order to verify whether there is already a cure for type 1 diabetes, as Congressman Schweikert said, 12 News analyzed information from the Diabetes Research Institute, The American Diabetes Association and a clinical trial Schweikert referenced on the House floor.

THE ANSWER:

Although research shows potential for a cure, there is currently no approved cure for type 1 or type 2 diabetes 

WHAT WE FOUND:

It’s estimated that nearly 1.9 million Americans suffer from type 1 diabetes, an insidious condition that attacks the nervous system and blood vessels and leads to a host of deadly health complications. 

“We know how to cure it (type 1 diabetes) now,” Schweikert said on the House floor, pointing to an image on a poster referencing a clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals involving stem cells.  

“The science journals have made it clear last November, December, the success,” Schweikert said. “If you actually care about solving the misery, read!” 

However, an analysis of the clinical trial by Vertex Pharmaceuticals referenced by Schweikert shows the trial is still in its early phases. The study’s start date was March 2021 and the completion date is not until January 2028. 

“Scientists may be able to restore a person to a healthy state,” the announcement about the study states. “This clinical trial aims to show whether the therapy could work and whether it is safe.” 

A spokesperson for Schweikert provided to 12 News a New York Times story about a man who may be the first person cured of type 1 diabetes. He was the first participant in the Vertex Pharmaceuticals trial. However, the story also cautions that the entire study will take five years. 

According to The Diabetes Research Institute, “While type 1 diabetes can be managed with insulin, diet, and exercise, there is currently no cure. However, researchers with the Diabetes Research Institute are now working on treatments to reverse the disease, so that people with type 1 diabetes can live healthy lives without medication.” 

According to the American Diabetes Association’s website, insulin and oral medications remain the best tools to lower blood sugar and manage type 1 diabetes. 

Schweikert also referenced in his speech a potential breakthrough reported in February of this year

The study, conducted by BioSpace, uses gene-edited cell replacement therapy. If successful, it will provide “a transformative treatment for patients with all insulin-requiring forms of diabetes.” 

The phase 1 clinical trial will be completed in December of this year, according to the company. 

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