Researcher may have found a cure for Type 1 Diabetes
July 10, 2017
Ending the world’s diabetes epidemic could be one step closer, with a promising new technique curing the condition in mice.
Scientists at the University of Texas announced the breakthrough, which uses a novel approach that may eliminate Type 1 diabetes and see painful insulin injections become a thing of the past.
University of Texas Health Science Center doctors used a virus as a carrier to introduce insulin-producing genes into the pancreas of rodent subjects.
Professor Ralph DeFronzo said researchers altered cells so they secreted insulin, but only in response to glucose — mimicking the behavior of the body’s beta cells.
This study bypasses the autoimmune system by altering other pancreatic cells so they can co-exist with immune defenses — unlike beta cells, which are rejected in Type 1 patients.
At the moment, Type 1 diabetes is treated by monitoring glucose levels and injecting artificial insulin several times a day. While technology has made management of the condition easier, a cure has been elusive — until now.
The patent’s co-inventor, Professor Bruno Doiron, said the results had never been seen before.
“It worked perfectly,” Doiron said. “We cured mice for one year without any side effects.”
Doiron predicted the same low-risk response in humans.
“If a Type 1 diabetic has been living with these cells for 30, 40 or 50 years, and all we’re getting them to do is secrete insulin, we expect there to be no adverse immune response.”
DeFronzo said the same method of treatment has been approved almost 50 times by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat various conditions, including rare childhood diseases.
While it’s early days, the potential applications are promising and the researchers will now conduct a study on larger animals before any move to human trials.
Type 2 diabetes is the fastest-growing chronic condition in Australia, increasing at a faster rate than both heart disease and cancer.
The researcher’s discovery could have a massive impact on the lives of the 29 million Americans living with diabetes. About 86 million more are living with prediabetes, according to the CDC.
The biggest side effect of diabetes is hypoglycemia, when the level of glucose in the bloodstream is at abnormally low levels.
It can have severe side effects including seizures, inability to eat or drink, and unconsciousness, and is potentially fatal.
The new therapy precisely regulated the blood sugar of the mice — a major improvement over traditional insulin therapy.