Seeking to End
the Devastating Health and Economic Impacts of Diabetes

Diabetes — Public Health

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven percent of Americans have some form of diabetes. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death by disease in the U.S. Diabetes is the primary cause of new cases of blindness, non-traumatic amputation, and kidney failure. In the U.S. alone there are 80,000 amputations annually and more than 23,000 new cases of blindness due to diabetes-induced complications. Diabetics are also at significantly higher risk for heart disease.

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are an estimated 21 million people in the United States who have diabetes. In 2006, 1.5 million new cases of diabetes were diagnosed in people age 20 years or older. Since 1987 the death rate due to diabetes has increased by 45 percent, while the death rates due to heart disease, stroke, and cancer have declined.

Clearly, treating and curing diabetes has enormous implications for public health in the U.S. According to the American Diabetes Association:

  • Direct medical and indirect expenditures attributable to diabetes in 2002 were estimated at $132 billion, with $23.2 billion for diabetes care, $24.6 billion for chronic complications attributable to diabetes, and $44.1 billion for excess prevalence of general medical conditions;

  • Per capita medical expenditures averaged $13,243 for people with diabetes and $2,560 for people without diabetes;

  • After adjusting for differences in age, sex, and race/ethnicity, people with diabetes had medical expenditures that were 2.4 times higher than expenditures incurred by non-diabetics.

The estimated $132 billion total annual cost of treating diabetes in America likely underestimates the true burden of diabetes because it omits intangibles, such as pain and suffering, care provided by unpaid caregivers, and several areas of health care spending where people with diabetes probably use services at higher rates than people without diabetes (e.g., dental care, optometry care, and the use of licensed dietitians).

Encapsulated / Transplanted Beta Cell Solution to Curing Diabetes

Successful transplantation of encapsulated islets reverses diabetes, obviates the need for insulin injections and, in restoring normal blood glucose levels, removes the long-term risks of devastating secondary diseases caused by prolonged high-glucose levels — hyper-glycemia, or high blood glucose. Hyper-glycemia can result in damage to small capillaries and damage to organs and body parts dependent on capillaries for nutrition. High blood glucose levels can also lead to high ketone levels and ketone poisoning. In addition, the immediate risk of erratic short-term swings of glucose levels — hypo-glycemia, or low blood glucose levels from too much insulin — can result in coma and severe shock and death.

Functional Cure — A Two-Part Process

In the last three years, there have been numerous scientific discoveries and research successes that validate a clear and promising strategy to provide a functional cure for diabetes. The strategy has two parts:

  1. A scalable source for islet cells that can be encapsulated and transplanted into diabetic patients. Encapsulation technologies are NOT the limiting factor for bringing a functional cure for diabetes within the reach of an estimated 180 million victims worldwide. The source of islets is the greatest current limiting factor for full scalability of allotransplantation — and xenotransplantation is viewed as the best near-term solution for providing large numbers of islet cells. Encapsulife has extensive experience in xenotransplantation research through various U.S. and international collaborations and access to significant supplies of islet cells.

  2. A means for protecting the transplanted islets cells from the new host's immune system and rigors of daily life and exercise; protection enables the transplanted islet cells to function and produce insulin in response to glucose produced by the host's digestive system.

When these two components are joined in a medical protocol that ensures both safety to the patient and efficacy (reversal of diabetes) at a reasonable cost, a functional cure for diabetes is achieved.

A functional cure should not be taken to mean a single event that permanently reverses diabetes. For the time being, given the state of medical technologies, Encapsulife envisions periodic "booster" treatments — on the order of 9 to 18 months — with hopes that continued research and optimization will extend the intervals between booster treatments.