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Twin Cities media ready to cure diabetes – even if the science isn't there yet

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University of Minnesota researchers announced Sunday that they were able to reverse diabetes in monkeys by transplanting insulin-producing cells from pigs.

The Star Tribune’s sub-head read, “A new study raises the potential for an endless supply of insulin-producing cells to cure the disease that affects 20 million Americans.” Mind you, this work was done on a few monkeys. Yet the headline trumpets a potential impact on 20-million Americans. At least the first line of the story read, “They’re not ready to try this with people yet. “

KMSP TV wrote “Scientists at the U of M are closing in on a cure.”

WCCO TV wrote this was a “breakthrough that could lead to the end of injections for tens of thousands of diabetes patients.”

KARE TV wrote “While many consider pigs a cure for hunger, they could also harbor the key to curing Type 1 diabetes.”

The Pioneer Press headline read, “U finds pig cells can treat diabetes.” Treat? Yeah, in monkeys. The story went on to say this development gives “renewed hope that a better treatment, or even a cure, may soon be available.” Soon? The researcher says human trials are three years away. How would you define soon?

Read my “Seven Words You Shouldn’t Use in Medical News.”. Cure, breakthrough, and hope are all on the list. And I didn’t create the list. Sick people provided the impetus. This important piece of diabetes research could have been told with a lot less sensationalism. The story didn’t need it. Neither do sick people.

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