Ahh, Star Trek… So many fond memories on so many lazy Sundays during my childhood… I remember laying on the couch on Sundays, watching the adventures of Captain Kirk, Captain of the starship Enterprise, guiding his ship through the cosmos and meeting all kinds of different life forms. And green women… We must not forget the green women!
I’m referring to the original series, of course, that aired in 1966. As I write this, I realize how I’ve just aged myself horribly but when I ask someone nowadays if they’ve ever seen Star Trek, I’m usually met with “What, the one with Chris Pine?” Disappointing. I no longer want to live on this planet, anymore. But on a serious note, Star Trek spawned over half a dozen television series and tons of fantastic movies, some of which have given us a glimpse into the future of technology. I’m sure we can all remember Captain Picard on Star Trek TNG, using those thin touch-pads to write his logs and reports. This was well before the advent of the iPad.
When seeing all that technology and how it’s applied in the medical context, it makes me curious just how disease-free the Star Trek universe actually is. I’ve seen them heal people who were on the brink of death, infected by alien viruses and there’s virtually no mention of disease throughout any of the series, with the exception of a few one-in-a-million incidents. It makes one wonder: Did they cure Type-1 Diabetes in the Star Trek universe?
For as long as I’ve had Diabetes, I’ve been hearing how “close” we are to a cure. Back in 1982 when I was first diagnosed, they predicted that we were only about 20 years away from a cure. Here we are 37 years later, and I ain’t hearin’ no cure! It seems that about every five years, they come out with something that “could” potentially be a cure, but nothing ever sticks. It probably doesn’t help that there are a lot of “cure Diabetes” books and articles out there, but they generally refer to Type-2 Diabetes, which is a whole different ballgame (And the effects of Type-2 can be reversed but not necessarily cured).
There have been a lot of promising treatments in recent decades. Different things, such as islet cell or beta cell transplantation, whole gene sequencing and even immune system manipulation have been examined and attempted. The prospect of a true pancreas transplantation has been toyed with, as well. Unfortunately, because it has to do with the immune system and the body’s beta cells, the average ability to be independent of insulin injections is only 60% after five years.
There was even talk about a preventative vaccine that could prevent the onset of Type-1 Diabetes, and was due to start human trials back in 2018. I haven’t heard much in the way of updates on the progress of this vaccine in the past two years, but if successful it would go a long way towards eliminating Type-1 Diabetes. It’ll suck for those of us who already HAVE it, but at least it would guarantee that the next generations to come won’t have to put up with injections, testing and the many complications associated to Type-1 Diabetes. I can almost hear all the anti-vaxxers grinding their teeth in opposition…
So, there you have it. I’m still hearing that magic “20 years” being thrown around when I research potential cures and timelines. But who knows what treatments and possibilities may emerge in the decades to come? By the time we reach the Star Trek age of the future, Diabetes may be a thing of the past. It sure would be nice if all it took was the gentle hiss of a hypospray against my neck and have the doctor say, “There you go, you’re healed!” In the meantime, it’s a classic case of hurry up and wait. ☯