OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi has one of the highest diabetes rates in the country, and an Ocean Springs clinic is involved in nationwide research that could help lead to a cure.
Diabetes rates are climbing across the country, especially type two, which can usually be controlled with lifestyle changes and is often preventable.
But type one insulin dependent diabetes is not preventable, and researchers are looking for better treatments and hopefully a cure.
Walter Chatagner was diagnosed with diabetes in 1995, and it changed his life. Chatagner said his "eating habits, exercise habits changed. Diabetes affects you in so many ways; circulation, mood swings; you have to stay on top of it."
Now he's playing an active role in helping others with the disease and those not yet diagnosed, to help find a cure for this potentially deadly disease. He's taking part in nationwide research.
The study is called the Type one Diabetes Exchange, sponsored by the Helmsley Charitable Trust. Chatagner hopes more people on the coast will volunteer for the study.
"It affects everybody, so maybe if more people volunteer to do these studies, we'll be closer to finding a cure."
Adult nurse practitioner KC Arnold says her clinic in Ocean Springs, The Diabetes Center, is the only one in the state taking part in the study, that includes 67 medical facilities around the country.
"There is a roster of all of the clinics. We started here at the bottom, because we got into he trial a little late, and now we're up to 30th in recruitment, right up there with larger centers like Vanderbilt. My little clinic in Mississippi is head to head with those bigger centers."
The study involves a questionnaire filled out on iPads, by consenting patients and their healthcare provider.
"The goal is to get 25,000 people registered and they're already at 15,000 today. We're happy to be part of a study that could lead to better focus for research and ultimately find a cure."
Arnold says she hasn't had much trouble getting patients to take part in the study, because filling out the form is easy and patients like the idea of making a difference; patients like Walter Chatagner.
"If it's gonna help defeat this disease, I'm for it."
So far Arnold says they've had no trouble meeting the goal of registering fifty people each quarter through her clinic.