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'IMAX Movie of Body' Allows Stanford Geneticist To Stop Diabetes In Its Tracks 137

sciencehabit writes "Michael Snyder has taken 'know thyself' to the next level. Over a 14-month period, the molecular geneticist analyzed his blood 20 different times to pluck out a wide variety of biochemical data depicting the status of his body's immune system, metabolism, and gene activity. In yesterday's issue of Cell (abstract), Snyder and a team of 40 other researchers present the results of this extraordinarily detailed look at his body, which they call an integrative personal omics profile (iPOP) because it combines cutting-edge scientific fields such as genomics (study of one's DNA), metabolomics (study of metabolism), and proteomics (study of proteins). Instead of seeing a snapshot of the body taken during the typical visit to a doctor's office, iPOP effectively offers an IMAX movie, which in Snyder's case had the added drama of charting his response to two viral infections and the emergence of type 2 diabetes."
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'IMAX Movie of Body' Allows Stanford Geneticist To Stop Diabetes In Its Tracks

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  • Eh, Type 2 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:12PM (#39393149)

    Let me know when they can stop, and reverse, Type 1.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Type 1 is autoimmune diabetes, Type 2 is "everything else". That can be reduced insulin sensitivity, not producing enough insulin to support your body mass (which is why we equate fat=diabetic), and gestational diabetes where an increase in hormones prevents insulin from entering cells. The sources of the diseases are vastly different, but both result in increased blood sugar.

      The test to determine if you are type 1 or type 2 specifically looks for the immune system antibody (Islet of Langerhan antibody) in

    • by ivi ( 126837 )

      Keep a finger on the pulse of "eyelet transplantation" (ie, from a healthy donor, into a Type 1 Diabetes sufferer) and the techniques that follow on its heals. (A while ago, ET required suppressing the person's immune system, but - after all these years of research - there must be some improved treatments; we no longer follow the trail.)

      • by waterbear ( 190559 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @12:19PM (#39395937)

        "eyelet transplantation" (ie, from a healthy donor, into a Type 1 Diabetes sufferer)

        For the sake of helping any searchers not miss a load of references through searching on "eyelets" ....

        These are "islets", not "eyelets", i.e. "Islets of Langerhans" (named for the scientist who first described them), they are little islands of special tissue in the pancreas gland, and they contain the beta-cells that normally make insulin, and in Type-1 diabetes they fail after attack by autoimmune processes. Their transplantation has been both promising and problematic, and as the parent post noted, tissue rejection problems have been met by immunosuppression.


  • Misleading (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bgetter ( 2597851 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:21PM (#39393183)
    Really neat stuff until the part where the massive testing had nothing to do with his diabetes control. Oh, and I am sure the idea of more testing in a medical-cost-cutting world is going to go over really well.
    • More testing is going to go over really well with medical insurers, because they can find more excuses to deny your coverage.
      • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

        by thejynxed ( 831517 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:53PM (#39393293) Homepage

        Except starting in 2014, if all goes well, it will be illegal for them to deny you coverage based on a pre-existing condition. There will also be no annual cap on your doctor visits, etc because they can no longer cap that, either.

        AKA HMOs can't say, "Oh, you're only allowed 3 office visits per quarter, and if you go above such and such amount, we cut off you off for the rest of the year."

        • Re:Misleading (Score:5, Informative)

          by fragMasterFlash ( 989911 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @12:28AM (#39393425)
          It goes further than that, medical insurers will be required to spend 85% of revenues collected as premiums on the care of insured members []. With a potential profit margin narrowed to 15% of revenue minus operating costs the US medical insurance industry will likely no longer be the darling of the investment community.
          • But if you cap profit margins as a fixed % how will they increase net profits?


            Charge more for the same service (or lack thereof).
            It's basic math...15% of 20 billion is *DOUBLE* 15% of 10 billion.

            They'll have to pass along more to doctors but they'll still get to tell Wall Street their profits went up (yet again).

        • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )

          There's also nothing to prevent them from simply charging you more than you can afford for said coverage, either.

          "Our rates just went up to $1500/month with a doubled deductible. It's three times that for a family of 4. So sorry you can't stay with us."

          • There's also nothing to prevent them from simply charging you more than you can afford for said coverage, either.

            Right. My family doesn't have health insurance because of a pre-existing condition law. I had a package all set to go that I could afford with a rider for two conditions (each controlled by a $4 generic) but then they realized I was in NH so they couldn't do the rider and would have to charge me $550/mo more for the full coverage.

            There's no magic $6600 in my budget, so we're uninsured. Senator

            • by RealUlli ( 1365 )

              There's no magic $6600 in my budget, so we're uninsured. Senator Shaheen can kiss my uninsured ass.

              Watch out, you might catch someting!


          • If that were allowed, every sick person in history would've immediately had a monthly bill larger than their care costs... at which point it's not insurance anymore, it's just bills for your care plus extra useless bills when you're well. But that's not how it works, they can't arbitrarily personalize your price.
          • Just as there's nothing stopping a person from saying "screw insurance" and simply paying for their health care.
    • The interesting thing about Type 2 diabetes (the type you acquire) is that often simply but getting exercise as as great an effect on control as taking insulin injections. of course dietary changes are significant too (less sugar, in all its guises eg bread etc). Getting off the couch (and out of the basement) a lot more can actually do something for you!

      Unfortunately the same doesn't help with Type 1 diabetes (the type you are born with) :( Hopefully one day someone will find a fix for that.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Sorry, but I just want to add in here that your distinctions between Type 2 and Type 1 are incorrect. Both involve some degree of genetic factors. The difference is that Type 2 individuals still make insulin but are RESISTANT to the insulin their body produces. Type 1's no longer make insulin, or make very little of it.

        I was not born with Type 1, and at the age of 26 years old was diagnosed with it. There are many schools of thought on why this can happen in adults; one possibility is a virus that trigg

        • Don't try to kick me off my high horse of blaming type 2 on people just being fat and not getting off their ass and exercising.

      • FYI:

        + []

        Not problem-free, but some successor or spin-off might be, someday, if not now.

      • I would hope so. Type 2 diabetes is not treated with insulin.

        And no you aren't born with type 1 diabetes either. It's an auto-immune disease.

    • by glorybe ( 946151 )
      Really the only thing that health care workers really do is run tests, prescribe meds or cut away at something. And those tests cost a king's ransom. On top of all that we have doctors that prescribe tests simply to protect themselves from legal problems. For example a $2,000 cat scan may be ordered simply to be able to make the claim that all proper diligence has been applied to the patient.
      • by mbkennel ( 97636 )

        the problem isn't that they are doing a $2000 CAT scan, the problem is that a bog-standard scan and three minute examination of the results costs $2000.

        I had a very simple chest X-ray. This technology and much of the medical training for common conditions is unchanged for at least 50, and probably 80 years. I was charged $600 which my insurance's awesome discount helpfully lowered to $450. This was an as an outpatient.

    • You're just getting sidetracked by the human interest angle, which is basically irrelevant.

      Science is all about looking more closely at something than others have done. This often results in seeing something new and thus gaining new understanding. In this case it's about understanding the dynamics of how the body is constantly regulating gene expression, the immune system, and many other things to ward off deterioration and constant threats from the environment. It sounds like a promising avenue of r

  • Terrible Headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lord of the Fries ( 132154 ) on Saturday March 17, 2012 @11:42PM (#39393247) Homepage

    Slashdot headlines are getting pathetically lame. This kind of twisted deceptive word play is what I expect when I stand in line at the grocery store. Would it have been stooping so low to integrity to post

    'IMAX Movie of Body' Allows Stanford Geneticist To See Type 2 Diabetes Progress Like Never Before


    • Type 2 Diabetes CAUGHT CHEATING.

      - Stanford Geneticist calls off engagement
      - Secretly recorded "IMAX" tape released
      - "Not on my watch, you don't!"

      Really, though I think the headline would be a bit more eye catching since two viral infections were going on if instead it read "Type 2 Diabetes CAUGHT SAMPLING THE BUFFET".
    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Sunday March 18, 2012 @02:09AM (#39393737) Homepage Journal

      'IMAX Movie of Body' Allows Stanford Geneticist To See Type 2 Diabetes Progress Like Never Before

      Stop with the IMAX. It's a stupid analogy (I know, not yours) and this is a tech site. Perhaps:

      "Comprehensive time-series body data analysis sheds new light on Type 2 Diabetes Progression."

      Next thing you know, they'll be changing the Big & Tall Section at the department store to the IMAX Clothing section. I wonder if attendance is down at real IMAX theatres since the brand's destruction.

  • Elsevier boycott (Score:4, Informative)

    by Strange Attractor ( 18957 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @12:24AM (#39393397) Homepage

    Cell is published by Elsevier which has been in the news recently because of a boycott. A search provides I support the boycott.

    • by Moridineas ( 213502 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @02:50AM (#39393853) Journal

      I work in the publishing industry for a small publisher.

      I was at a convention several weeks ago and spoke with some people who worked for a subsidiary of Elsevier. As an aside, just like in other industries, the publishing industry conglomerates are GIANT. Beyond the science and medical journals that were involved in starting the boycott, Elsevier owns LexisNexis (synonymous with law databases and also a book publisher), Harcourt (fiction), Butterworth, and many more. They have gobbled up literally dozens of formerly independent publishers, and in general data and knowledge companies in all fields.

      Anyway, the employees of this particular subsidiary said Elsevier was SEVERELY hurting because of the boycott. I was shocked... I had assumed the boycott would have minimal impact. These particular employees (again, not of Elsevier directly) were glad as they were fully aware of how expensive Elsevier journals are and how ridiculous Elsevier's links in to government are. One of them said basically that Elsevier had spent millions of dollars over the past 15 years to get exclusive rights to public domain research (link []). Once they got it, the situation blew up and Elsevier backed off--waiting no doubt for people to forget.

      This also goes to show how many of the individuals in a corporation can believe the "right" thing but that horrible leadership at the top is all that matters.

      It's corporations like Elsevier that give ALL companies a bad name. I support the boycott.

    • Cell is published by Elsevier which has been in the news recently because of a boycott

      You mean, which has been in the news because it is one big fucking scam []. When you publish with Elsevier, you publish with EVIL.

  • what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    So they took 20 blood tests over a 14month period and this is a big deal?
    • by Anonymous Coward's not like he got a standard lab corp report of his glucose and cholesterol levels. the group did an entire proteomic, genomic, and metabolomic analysis - reporting how transcriptional levels of his genes and translational levels of his proteins changed over the course of time. it's never been done before, and proves that tracking this amount of information can likely be more informative than just a simple metabolic panel ordered by your physician. it's proving that the information can be pr

  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @12:41AM (#39393471) Homepage Journal

    Constant monitoring could be the next big thing in medicine.

    We currently diagnose based on discrete measurements compared with cutoffs - "averages" and numbers which are rounded to easily-remembered values. For example, Type-II diabetes is indicated when glucose is over 200mg/dl 2 hours after an oral glucose test. ...that seems like an awfully contrived number, simply because it's so easy to remember.

    Instead of single point cutoff measurements, maybe we could get better diagnoses if we could see the change in values over time. Perhaps a more accurate diagnosis of diabetes would come from characterizing the slope of several months worth of glucose measurements.

    With the rise of cheap microprocessors, I think there's a lot of opportunity for medical monitoring. Something like a wristwatch which records 10 types of measurements every hour. Of course I don't know how this could be done - perhaps spectroscopic measurements of reflected light through the skin, or terahertz wave reflections.

    I've often wondered if it's possible to make a USB peripheral that records to a TI Chronos wristwatch [] for later display.

    I bet there's lots of interesting features there just waiting to be discovered.

    • Absolutely right I think. A first step is the difference between being in hospital, where the first thing any doctor does is look at the chart at the end of the bed for the history of your temperature, BP, etc. and going into a GP surgery and having a single measurement. We already have wearable 24 hour BP and ECG monitors. Looking ahead 5-10 years, I can imagine anyone who is ill (or pregnant or old) wearing a wristwatch and maybe a few stick-on or swallowed or injected wireless sensors that records their

    • a lot of opportunity for medical monitoring

      Continuous blood sugar monitoring would require a supply of reagent to react with glucose and need constant refills. There are no currently known properties of dissolved blood sugar you can measure without a direct chemical reaction.

      If you want near continous measurements you can get software and data cables but they never come free or included, and lately they only send data to a website and not your own computer. Gotta love the business approach to healthcare.

    • sure they are experimenting with small implantable devices but they are not real labs. The general purpose discrimination power of a modern medical lab is phenomenal, small implanted device, not so much.

    • by Herve5 ( 879674 )

      Indeed you are perfectly right.
      I work in the space industry, and clearly here we are already using this "detect changes" strategy for everything that we can check regularly, from design to assembly to actual lifetime use.
      Of course within the technical field this is easier to perform than on the human body, but definitely you can set warnings not only on levels but on trends, etc. and indeed we now predict not only when a system will fail, but also when its situation will only become "difficult to handle".

  • by thrill12 ( 711899 ) on Sunday March 18, 2012 @01:28AM (#39393639) Journal
    Interesting news article, but when I read at the end that he is creating his own startup (and the disclosure of the author), I get funny feelings about the research and read back in the article: no critics. There must be some critical information in the scientific publication, but this article reads like a readers digest. Such articles make people probably pull their wallets quicker I guess... [/rantmodeoff]
  • The only difference are comments which I will never get to because the subject is so made up.

    "Apple tree's fruit allows Cambridge physicist to discover the law of gravity"

  • Interestingly I was reading an article a few months back about obese people undergoing gastric bypass. The report said something like 60 people were followed and 20 had diabetes. Strange thing is, as soon as the operations were over, the diabetes disappeared. Instantly. In all the diabetic patients. No one knows why.

  • Check [] to know what NOT to eat, if you're diabetic.

Time to take stock. Go home with some office supplies.