India and World Science Are We There

For those unfortunate to be afflicted by diabetes, the misfortune does not just arise from the condition. The treatment also involves pain - of a more literal kind.

Type 1 diabetics wrestle daily with the unpleasant prospect of jabbing themselves with insulin. Convinced that the remedy is worse than the disease, many patients often skip the treatment and live - or die - with the consequences.

To mitigate their plight, researchers from the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi recently devised a technique that could lower the frequency of this ritual to once in several months.

Speaking to Sify, Dr Avadhesha Surolia, Director of the NII and head of the research team, said "this is indeed a pioneering and extremely important piece of work, given that India ranks very high in the number of people being affected with diabetes".

According to an estimate by the International Diabetes Federation in October 2009, India had the highest number of diabetics with 50.8 million.

However, in March this year, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that China had the dubious distinction of being the world leader in this category, with 92.4 million diabetics.

It is possible that the number of diabetics in India may also be revised upwards as new data is collected. In fact, the Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, announced in May that the government plans to hold a diabetes census in the next two years.

The conventional insulin therapy is not only inconvenient but also "inadequate for blood glucose control between meals and during the night," as Dr Surolia pointed out.

"Thus, a single shot of insulin delivering a very basal level continuously for even a month would not only improve the life led by these patients but also prevent morning hypoglycaemia, which is a dreaded condition faced by them," he said.

He elaborated on the technical breakthrough that his team achieved during the project which was initiated...