Could a person with Type 1 diabetes re-grow their own pancreas? A San Antonio study is about to find out

Local patients being asked to participate in a never-before-seen clinical trial

SAN ANTONIO – A person being able to re-grow their own damaged pancreas inside their body might sound like science fiction, but a new local research study wants to know if it could be real.

“Is there anything on the market like this? No. Is there anything much like this in research? Not that I know of,” Dr. Sherwyn Schwartz said.

Schwartz is the senior medical consultant of the Evolution Research Group and a longtime local doctor who has spent his career bringing important research studies to San Antonio.

That one-of-a-kind research happening right here in San Antonio could change everything for Type 1 diabetes patients.

To fully understand the study, Schwartz said it’s important to understand Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and very different than Type 2 diabetes.

The process starts with sugar, which our bodies use for fuel. For sugar to travel through the body and be used as energy, the human body needs insulin, a hormone located inside the pancreas.

For Type 1 diabetes patients, the pancreas makes very little or no insulin. As a result, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. Patients may have to be dependent on insulin shots or pumps for life.

“If someone’s got Type 1 diabetes right now, there’s really no treatment except insulin, so we can’t reverse anything,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz is hoping he and his team can change that.

“It’s a national study at several sites, including San Antonio — thank God — where they have a compound they’re working on that will make the pancreas potentially grow its insulin cells back,” Schwartz said. “And it’s never been done before.”

Schwartz and his team are investigating if an injection of the compound could allow patients’ own bodies to repair their damaged pancreas.

If it works, the study could be a major step in finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

“To try to make the pancreas grow back and protect them, so they just don’t have to take insulin the rest of their life,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz wants residents in and around San Antonio to be a part of history, and sign up to participate in the study.

The study is looking for participants right now.

You qualify if you’re:

- a Type 1 diabetes patient between 18 and 60 years old

- your disease is early on

- you have no other serious medical problems.

Schwartz said participants will be compensated for their time.

For more information, call 210-934-0500.

About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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