Diabetic Omani youth on mission to find its lasting cure
January 28, 2018 | 9:43 PM
by Times News Service
Like any other person who suffers from an illness, be it chronic or infectious disease, I wanted to think of ways to cure diabetes and rid the world of it completely, said Omani researcher Yusuf Al Akhzami. Photo-Supplied

Muscat: Yusuf Al Akhzami is a young Omani who has been diabetic since he was 11 years old.

His own experience with the disease has spurred him on to research possible genetic engineering treatments for those who suffer from the condition.

“The idea came to me after my diagnosis some nine years ago. Like any other person who suffers from an illness, be it chronic or infectious, I wanted to think of ways to cure diabetes and rid the world of it completely. I started by using stem cells spreading to treat conditions such as diabetes, fibrosis of the liver, and weak heart muscles,” he said.

Al Akhzami experimented on chickens that were injected with blood samples. He conducted blood withdrawals, removed organs and inoculated cells.

“I would withdraw blood cells, three centimetres of liver, and then add telomerase enzymes to divide and break up cells,” he said.

Despite working with limited facilities, Al Akhzami’s research is touching on ideas that are beginning to change the field of genetic engineering. Recently, scientists announced the discovery of a new genetic engineering method that may hold the key to curing a range of serious illnesses.

“This is my idea and I hope that the authorities will consider it and help me put a smile on patients’ faces,” Al Akhzami said.

Among every 11 people, one person is diabetic, according to a global health survey. In 2014, 422 million people were affected by diabetes and 8.5 per cent of them were adults. Diabetes, a genetic disease, is caused by unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activities and obesity. National statistics show that 89,246 diabetes cases were recorded by the Ministry of Health associations in 2016.

There was an addition of 6,442 new cases in 2016. Of the recorded cases, 49.4 per cent are males, and 50.6 per cent are females.

The national diabetes survey in 1991 found that 9.8 per cent of the Omani population was diabetic. The number increased in 2000 to reach 11.6 per cent, according to the national health survey. It went up again in 2008 to 12.3 per cent.

In the Sultanate, 7,317 diabetes cases were registered in Dhofar by the end of 2016. Some 8.2 per cent of all the diabetes cases recorded in the Sultanate came from the Dhofar governorate. Some 598 new cases were added in Dhofar in 2016. The disease showed an increase of over 1.7 per cent in the governorate.

Among the new diabetic cases in 2016, Omani diabetic males were some 42 per cent and females made up 38 per cent of the numbers. While non-Omani diabetic males were 15 per cent, females were five per cent of the new recorded numbers for the disease in 2016. The new cases that have been added in Dhofar from 2010 till 2016 are as follows: 550 new cases in 2010, 423 cases in 2011, 343 in 2012 and 312 in 2013, as well as 506 in 2014, 638 in 2015 and 598 cases in 2016.

Some precautions that diabetes patients can take are to practice sports, take medication on time, stay away from anything that causes stress, and balance food intake.

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