Written by By Erin Daly, CNN Jerusalem
A cure for type 1 diabetes? Not so fast. But one patient is calling for researchers to rethink their approach.
Israel-based historian David Ometz stumbled upon a surprising new theory on his quest to contain his insulin-dependent diabetes while researching the events leading up to the creation of Israel.
Ometz, from Danamon, in northern Israel, was given the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes when he was 20. Today, he’s able to control the condition with injections of insulin and diets, but believes there are hidden factors in his cause of affliction.
“I believe the problem is not insulin at all,” Ometz told CNN. “It’s that I’m, or feel, extremely sensitive to its presence.
“Every time I should use it, and it shows up, I have the feeling that it is contaminated.”
One of the possible culprits? Cells called pancreatic islet cells. These cells are found in every cell of the body, but appear to be inversely related to the frequency of barbiturates in a person’s diet, according to Ometz’s research.
Ometz describes his theory as “groundbreaking.” But the Food and Drug Administration has not taken kindly to his suggestion.
“They stopped my trial early on,” he said. “And for a while, it was quite difficult to find somebody else who would support my results.
“I think now it is even much harder.”
Ometz first presented his findings to Israeli television in 2014. His theory was not one that received much support from colleagues, and his position on the team — which also included Israeli-born immunologist Dr. Amos Ramon — was not appreciated by colleagues.
“I was an outsider to this field at first,” he said. “I just wanted to give everybody a fresh explanation.
“I don’t believe the dogma of the previous research.”
Ometz said his critics alleged he was trying to “exaggerate” his potential condition and that his data did not clearly justify his controversial observations.
Despite this setback, Ometz vowed to keep pushing the subject.
“It took about three years of struggling on multiple levels,” he said. “And I really wouldn’t give up.”
The persistence finally paid off in 2013, with the publication of a book entitled “Uncovering Diabetes” in which Ometz published a detailed analysis of the relationships between vitamin D, alcohol, insulin, vitamin B and fat redistribution.
He then found the pancreatic beta cells that control type 1 diabetes had recently been found in the Israeli Negev desert.
Though his findings are far from conclusive, Ometz believes he can identify several proteins that suggest blood glucose levels, insulin and blood pressure “match our beliefs about the causes of diabetes.”
These findings demonstrate that diabetes has previously been caused by external, environmental factors rather than genetics.
Yet Ometz believes things have changed since he presented his studies — in particular, the increasing popularity of a pill that contains high levels of insulin called Insulet.
“But it is problematic,” Ometz said. “The high doses of insulin used for commercialization don’t always work effectively.
“Insemlates are not always used optimally. When diabetics use insulin, they should opt for suflowers.”
For the time being, Ometz is willing to offer his theories without a proof of concept. But he hopes that his work will persuade researchers to rethink their approach to diabetes research.
“Maybe now we’ll have a chance to provide the answer for this,” he said.
“The truth is that when you’re told that you have type 1 diabetes, you would not have an interest in presenting this kind of speculation to doctors and scientists. But I’d say it could not be more important.
“People are worried. And these theories are giving them hope. And it’s a way of saving them.
“Many things aren’t perfect, but I can get rid of diabetes by the changing of your diet, and all these theories can do that.”