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Testing type one diabetes

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Pittsburg (WKOW) -- There are a few good people in Pittsburgh who are pioneers.

  They're the first humans enrolled in a study designed to test a potential cure for type one diabetes.

  Ryan Cupps turned 18 and signed right up for a study that could change the course of the disease he's had since he was a little boy:  type 1 diabetes.

  Cupps said, "I check my sugar at least six times a day. That's always the most important thing. Injections, I usually do about five or six a day."

  Ryan is the first human in a study being done at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

  He's had a series of injections of a vaccine designed to block the autoimmune response that kills insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas - which causes type 1 diabetes.

  Doctor Massimo Trucco said, "we want to block the killing of the cells. We want to intervene when there is still some beta cells alive and possibly when there is still the possibility to regenerate new beta cells."

  As simple as it sounds, the process is complex.

  Blood is taken from each volunteer, processed in the lab to add the immune blockers, then reinjected into the patient's abdomen, near the pancreas.

  It won't cure Ryan's diabetes, because his damage is done, but it has cured mice.

  And it might, one day, cure young kids just developing the disease.

  Doctor Trucco added, "my goal is to see a child with diabetes that can eat his ice cream without problems. But an ice cream in a cone."

  "Whether you're the first person doing it or the last person doing it, you're still doing it for a sick group of people and you're helping them all," said Cupps.

  Doctor Trucco and his team hope to finish up this safety stage of the trial by the end of the year, and move onto a larger trial by 2010.

  Every year, roughly 13,000 children are diagnosed with type one diabetes in the U.S.

  There are approximately one-million Americans, like Ryan, living with it.

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