Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Doing My Part

Sorry I've been MIA from the OC for awhile. We've been really busy and while I've had ample subject matter to post, the time factor has been lacking. I'll try to post more about the specifics later.

In a recent post, Amy over at diabetesmine posted that there are several hundred diabetes related clinical studies underway and mucho PWDs, yet most of these studies lack for willing participants.

Enter Keith - several weeks ago the local paper posted a notice requesting T1 diabetics who would like to participate in a gene expression study contact the local college of medicine. The lack of studies in our area of Tennessee is one thing I have missed tremendously since we moved from TX several years ago, so I called and volunteered.

I had a lenghty conversation with the supervising physician, and was still a little unclear as to the exact hypothesis of this study. It wasn't until today, when I went in for the procedure, that I think I understand.

Here's the lowdown: there are glucose transport proteins located on the side of the muscle cell wall, the one being studied here is known as GLUT5. A previous study has indicated that there are about twice as many GLUT5 transport proteins on the cell wall in type 2 PWDs as in the general population. This study ultimately attempts to determine if the increase in number is caused by elevated blood sugars (obviously present in both T1s & T2s) or do people who eventially develop type 2 have a previously elevated GLUT5 count and thus GLUT5 count can be used as predictor of type 2 diabetes.

I didn't ask this question specifically, but I can only assume that the researchers will look at the T1 muscle cells to see if the GLUT5 count is elevated. If so, I think the conclusion to be drawn is that elevated blood sugars are the cause.

The procedure itself didn't hurt, but it was more invasive than I had anticipated. I had to be absolutely still and waiting on the operation chair/table for two hours before the procedure (to allow the proteins to settle). That wasn't bad as I visited with the Dr for the first hour and occupied myself with some papers I needed to read for the second.

Heres where it gets interesting. The procedure itself involved sticking a 5mm diameter (yes, that's half a centimeter folks) muscle biopsy needle about 3" into my thigh (vastus lateralis muscle specifically) and taking a 100mg (1/4" x 1/2") sample of muscle. The Doc did a good job of deadening the area before making the incision and subsequent insertion, but when I saw the size of the biopsy needle I decided it was not in my best interest to watch. I occupied myself by talking with the research assistant (there to immediately freeze the extracted muscle in liquid nitrogen) who interestingly enough didn't want to watch the procedure either.

It was over in 2-3 minutes and they all raved about what a good sample it was. If you've seen Alton Brown's episode of Tuna: The Other Red Meat (sorry tuna lover's) it looked just like the raw tuna before he rolls it in sesame seeds and cooks it over the blazing hot chimney... I must admit I haven't viewed my muscle in quite this fashion before, but it did look nice.

I'm glad to have done my part in this, even if it was fairly inconvenient (I now have a couple of stitches in my leg to be removed next week). I will receive a nice little check, but that was not ultimately my goal. I invited the researchers to contact me again should they have more studies (hopefully not involving large diameter biopsy needles) and they indicated that they would.

The bottom line is we have got to get this diabetes thing, both type 1 and type 2, CURED and we need to work together to do it!



Blogger Scott K. Johnson said...

Hey Keith!

No worries on the updates man! I've always said that our blogs should not be sources of stress in our lives (stress over doing regular updates and stuff). Post when you can and when you feel like it.

That study sounds interesting - and the procedure itself sounded pretty, um, unsettling maybe?

Is your muscle sore at all now?

Thanks for taking part in the study!

8:43 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Your right Scott, it shouldn't be a source of stress. If you're going to be part of a community you should probably post a little more frequently than once a month (like me lately).

Yeah, the leg is a little tender this morning, but I think by the end of the day I'll have that worked out.

Thanks for checking in.

4:10 AM  
Blogger AmyT said...

Good for you, Keith! Keep us posted :)

8:55 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks Amy I will. I asked for the study results and when it's completed I'll post.

12:34 PM  
Blogger type1emt said...

Ye-owch.I don't think I would have wanted to see the muscle sample(huge needles don't bother me so much)
D research definatly needs more participants, though I volunteer for everything I can..but it seems like there aren't that many T1's in this area either, they say it takes several years to fill up the average study.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Keith said...


The muscle looked like very lean meat (thus my tuna example). I think you would've been OK with it, especially considering you emt/nursing background.

I got the impression from the researchers that this was the entire study, but I could be wrong. I can't imagine that the sample size was very large and that can throw off std deviation and such.

Hope things are going well in VA.

5:31 AM  
Blogger Vivian said...

Howdy Neighbor! I am so proud of you for doing the study, that is cool. Hope all is going well in your part of the state. It is getting a little chilly over here. Have a happy Easter weekend!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Bernard said...

God bless you Keith

I really winced when you described the size of the needle. That sounds positively scary.

I'll be interested to see how quickly it heals up.

And thanks for supporting research in such a direct way. Wow, I still can't over the size of that thing.

3:58 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Thanks for the encouragement.

Things are downright COLD here this morning... I thought we were through with this stuff... guess not!

Yes, I hope you and your family have a very blessed weekend too.

In retrospect I hope the needle size doesn't deter others from taking part in research.

As far as healing, the site is still a little tender today (3 days later) and warm to the touch. I've also fought high blood sugars up until yesterday afternoon. While it's difficult to draw a direct correlation between the two events I think this stressed my body more than I anticipated.

Anyway, I'm still glad I did it and hope others will too as opportunities present themselves.

6:18 AM  
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