Scientists have cured diabetes in mice, marking a major breakthrough in tackling the disease
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Scientists in the United States 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 Centre 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 behaviour of the body’s beta cells.
This study bypasses the autoimmune system by altering other pancreatic cells so they can coexist with immune defences — 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 up to four 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,” Dr Doiron said. “We cured mice for one year without any side effects.”
Dr 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.”
Dr 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.
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