Insight: Putting Up with Self; December 2006; Scientific American Magazine; by Philip E. Ross; 2 Page(s)
Five years ago Denise Faustman stunned the biomedical world--and not in a good way, it seemed. She declared that she had cured diabetic mice by getting them to regrow their insulin-producing beta cells, a finding that, if it could be translated to humans, would spare the million-odd Americans with type 1 diabetes their daily needle pricking and insulin dosing. Since her announcement, the academic establishment has given Faustman little money and a lot of flak. Researchers complained that they could not replicate the experiments and that the Harvard Medical School researcher had cruelly raised hopes that would only be dashed.
Faustman's vindication, however, finally seems to be at hand. In March three groups reported separately in Science that they had repeated Faustman's protocols and reproduced her most important result, stopping the disease process in about half their mice and getting the animals to recover normal function. "The results are fantastic, coming from these groups, which were each paid $1 million to spend three years showing that I was wrong," she remarks. "I mean, they were all funded by the JDRF."