To (quite) loosely quote Margaret Mead, we should never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Very often, it’s the only thing that does. In this case, that small group consists of two people: Dr. Ryan Fiorini and his late grandfather.
Dr. Fiorini describes his grandfather as selfless, giving, genuine and “the best man in the world.” He also suffered from diabetes—types 1 and 2. During the last 14 years of his life, Dr. Fiorini’s grandfather’s health declined rapidly. First, he needed to have his toe amputated. Next, his foot. From there, below his knee and eventually his entire leg. Then, underwent a kidney transplant and sadly spent the last year of his life bedridden in a hospital.
“He never once complained,” says Fiorini.
“Type 1 diabetes slowly kills you. Everything else right now is a band-aid,” explains Fiorini.
Currently, the biggest band-aid of all is insulin injections.
That won’t be true for long: Dr. Fiorini is hell-bent on finding a needle-free remedy for type 1 diabetes. It’s almost as if it were fated that he to do so. You see, Ryan Fiorini’s grandfather passed away on February 2, 2014. The very next day, he joined Perle Bioscience, an R&D firm, as the President and CEO. Their sole mission? Using science to find treatments and ultimately a cure for type 1 diabetes.
“I’m not the most spiritual person in the world, but it gives me goose bumps that I found what I wanted to do with my life the day after he died.”
Depending who you ask, Ryan and his team at Perle Bioscience already have found the cure for type 1 diabetic insulin dependence. The company is about to enter the third (read: final) phase of its human trial utilizing beta regeneration and immune therapies. If this new approach works as expected, people living with type 1 early onset diabetes will not have to inject themselves with insulin, but simply take a pill twice a day.
As a result, “your pancreas will look like it did before you were diagnosed,” explains Dr. Fiorini.
That’s nothing short of incredible.
“If my grandfather could have given up his life so that others could avoid the suffering from diabetes the way he did, he would have,” says Fiorini.
And, in a way, that’s exactly what he did.
Words by: Annabel Jones
Photographer: Kip Bulwinkle