UM’s Diabetes Research Institute working toward cure of Type 1 diabetes

Ricordi Islet Cell Transplant

By Katie Lepri

Dr. Camillo Ricordi considers himself a diabetes freedom fighter.

Ricordi, the director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, is considered one of the world’s leading scientists in diabetes cure-focused research.

“The search for a cure is a full-time job,” said Ricordi, 57, who has been searching for a cure for the degenerative disease for more than 25 years. “It has to be something to consume you completely.”

In his office near Jackson Memorial Hospital, he keeps framed photographs of his most compelling Type1 diabetes patients near his desk, as a reminder of why he continues the crusade. One photograph is of former Miami Heat star Ray Allen’s son, Walker Allen, who was diagnosed with Type1 diabetes when he was 17 months old.

There is no known cure for Walker and the 382 million people diagnosed worldwide with diabetes. Of those, 5percent have Type1 diabetes, which primarily affects children and young adults. In Type1, the body’s immune system destroys pancreatic cells that make insulin, the hormone needed to regulate the body’s blood sugar. People with Type1 diabetes must have daily insulin injections or be on an insulin pump to survive.

Ricordi thinks that in the next three to seven years there will be a cure for Type1 patients.

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