Could Pitt genetic procedure allow people with type 1 diabetes to produce their own insulin?
For the first time, medical researchers have developed a genetic procedure that, if the project proceeds as hoped, could allow people with type 1 diabetes biologically to generate their own insulin.
It also could help those with type 2 diabetes produce more insulin and avoid injections.
Only a mouse study is completed, but research underway in primates has shown success to date. However, the research team based at the University of Pittsburgh and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC cannot predict if it will work in humans.
“We have shown for the first time that gene therapy can be specifically and effectively targeted to reverse autoimmune diabetes in mice without the use of any immunosuppressant drugs,” said George K. Gittes, chief of pediatric surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine and also Children’s chair of pediatric surgery.
The study published online today in the journal Cell Stem Cell says the Pittsburgh-based strategy “could represent a new therapeutic approach,” complemented by drugs to suppress the immune system, “to bolster endogenous insulin production,” which means the body generates sufficient insulin to keep blood-sugar levels in or closer to the normal range.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which one’s own immune system destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.
For nearly a century, doctors have sought a way to allow people with type 1 to biologically produce insulin, the hormone necessary to allow blood sugar to enter cells for use as energy. Without insulin injections or doses from insulin pumps, glucose le Continue reading