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From Worcester, Massachusetts, USA:

I am 34, female, and have had type 1 diabetes since age 11. I developed necrobiosis lipoidica diabeticorum on my shins at age 15. After the birth of my son three years ago, I developed hypothyroid and, a few months ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, confirmed with biopsy/gastroscopy. I also suspect I have Sjogren's syndrome, as I recently noticed intense dryness in my eyes, mouth, and other areas. My eye doctor plugged my lower tear ducts and that has not helped much with eye dryness at night.

What is wrong with my immune system that I continue to develop new autoimmune diseases/disorders? Is there any reason to hope that cord blood saved from the birth of my son could produce islets for me? Could a private biologist researcher perhaps develop them for me, since the "cure" has still not been delivered and I am 23 years into this? What would you suggest to stop the immune system issues I am having?

I worry that I will keep developing new autoimmune conditions. Also, for the Sjogren's syndrome, is there any point in getting it diagnosed? I have had enough painful procedures and do not want to biopsy if there is not really any point. Could the type 1 diabetes be causing the dryness? I understand the acute impact of hyperglycemia, but am asking more about the broader issue of what long term diabetes does to mucosal membranes.

Since I was diagnosed with celiac and have been gluten-free, I gained 10 pounds. I'm 5 feet, 3 inches, 115 pounds. My blood sugar control had been terrible, partially because I have not worried as much about carbohydrates as about gluten. I am on the pump and my A1c was 8.3. Also, are there complimentary therapies I should look into in terms of calming my immune system? What about acupuncture?


I can appreciate some of feelings you have about the mounting problems associated with immune-associated disease. As if it were not enough to have type 1 diabetes, you have also had to deal with the celiac disease, Sjogren's syndrome, hypothyroidism, and others. The benefits of research have been substantial, but they do not progress at a rate that would allow for an imminent cure in the next few years. On the other hand, we do not have a way to safely deliver modified stem cells for any diseases at this time. There is a safety risk, as well as a potential up side. The gluten-free diet takes some time to learn and utilize. However, it will help with improving intestinal function and decrease symptoms. There are no specific immune therapies to use at this time. I have not seen where any alternative therapies, such as acupuncture, have had any benefit. You will need to continue to work with what you have now, although that may seem less than desirable. You may want to look into the studies that are being carried out by NIH that may address these areas. Such studies are available through the National Institutes of Health web site.


Original posting 13 Feb 2006
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