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[IP] Fast Track to a Cure

     This article was posted this morning by Ellen (CamelsRFun) at the Islet 
Foundation message board - yet another excellent source for "state of the 
art" information about diabetes/research. etc. <A 
HREF="http://www.islet.org/forum/wwwboard.htm">The Islet Foundation Public 
Message Forum</A> (www.islet.org/forum/wwwboard.htm)......Regards, Renee

SANTA YSABEL, CA -Aug 14-- After three months and thousands of miles of 
training, diabetic cyclist Scott Crossen, 45, pedaled out of San Diego 
this morning, beginning a 4,000-mile, cross-country trip that he hopes 
will raise millions of dollars for diabetes-cure research and spark a 
sea-shift in the way the disease is perceived. 

"We are at the crest of a fundraising effort to raise money and 
consciousness," he told sponsors and guests at a dinner in San Diego on 
the eve of the event. "We have to let people know that this disease is a 

The Fast Track to a Cure national bike tour will travel across 16 states 
and 50 cities and was organized by the St. Louis-based Insulin-Free 
World Foundation (www.insulin-free.org) -which is dedicated to finding a cure 
for this disease 
in the face of a sometimes reluctant medical community. While doctors 
and even some diabetes organizations simply reiterate that managing the 
disease is the best solution, every 24 hours in the US alone, 75 people 
go blind, 80 suffer kidney failure and 150 lose legs or feet to 
diabetes, said Insulin-Free World founder Deb Butterfield, who authored 
Showdown with Diabetes, recently published by W. W. Norton. In the US, 
one diabetic dies every three minutes and a new case is diagnosed every 
40 seconds. 

"Diabetes currently kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS 
combined yet receives less than a tenth of the research funding," she 

Butterfield's own struggle with diabetes ended only after kidney failure 
led her to a kidney-pancreas transplant. The pancreas contains 
insulin-producing islet cells vital to turning sugar into energy. When 
they fail, excess sugar in the blood stream gives rise to many of the 
secondary complications. Yet, while pancreas transplants are successful 
more than 80 percent of the time in curing diabetes they are still 
viewed as a last ditch effort by many doctors and word of the transplant 
option has traveled slowly within the diabetic community. 

Part of the blame may fall on the community itself, which has 
traditionally tried to present the outside world with the image of the 
healthy diabetic leading a normal life. Because the effects of diabetes 
are not always plainly visible (failing sight can be disguised under 
glasses, and amputations with prosthetic limbs and crutches) the world 
has failed to give it the same attention as other diseases, she said. 

Or, as Crossen puts it: "We've been at the back of the fundraising bus 
for a long time," he said. "It's time we move up to the front." 

By the time Fast Track to a Cure pulls into New York on October 10th, 
the organization hopes to have changed that and generated millions of 
dollars in research funds. 

Thanks to the support of Bridge Information Systems, the largest 
financial information company in North America, 100 percent of the 
donations will go directly toward research at three internationally 
acclaimed centers that are on the verge of finding a cure for this 
disease. The Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute in San Diego, the 
Diabetes Research Institute in Miami and the University of Minnesota are 
all engaged in pioneering and promising experiments that involve 
transplanting just the insulin-producing pancreatic cells, or islets, 
into humans. 

The President of Scripps, California's powerful $800 million health care 
system, Stanley J. Pappelbaum and John B. Engle the director of the 
Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute, opened the ceremony that was hosted 
by Lynn and Elliott Tarson in Rancho Santa Fe. The Tarson's 12-year-old 
grandson, Matthew, has had diabetes since he was five. In a moving 
speech delivered by his mother, Matthew, talked about how despite all 
his sacrifices and efforts to keep his blood-sugar levels normal he 
simply couldn't do it. "I know they say that diabetes can be controlled, 
but it's not working," he said. "I really need a cure." 

Tom Wendel, the CEO of BRIDGE Information Systems said the notion that 
diabetes can be controlled should have been rejected long ago. Citing 
the recent case of Russian teens who have seen their state-allocated 
ration of blood test strips and insulin cut-off amid the country's 
severe economic crisis, Wendel said: "You can't tell me this is a 
manageable disease under those condition, and it's not a manageable 
disease under (our) conditions -a cure needs to be found." 

Although just beginning, the trek is already starting to garner serious 
national attention. Congressman Christopher Cannon of Utah plans to hold 
a public ceremony to honor the Insulin-Free World's efforts when the 
tour goes through that state from August 20th through August 26th . 
Several other celebrities and government officials have also expressed 
an interest in the project. 

Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who overcame cancer, has just 
recently signed on as a spokesman for BRIDGE, Wendel said, and, schedule 
permitting, it may be possible for Lance to make an appearance at a Fast 
Track event somewhere along the route. 
Insulin Pumpers website http://www.insulin-pumpers.org/
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