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'Smart' Insulin Hope For Diabetes

'Smart' insulin hope for diabetes

'Smart' insulin hope for diabetes

Scientists are hopeful that "smart" insulins which are undergoing trials could revolutionise the way diabetes is managed.
Instead of repeated blood tests and injections throughout the day to keep blood sugar in check, a single dose of smart insulin would keep circulating in the body and turn on when needed.
Animal studies show the technology appears to work - at least in mice.
Scientists plan to move to human trials soon, PNAS journal reports.
Experts caution that it will take years of testing before treatments could become a reality for patients.
Smart insulin
People with type 1 diabetes, who either do not make or cannot use their own natural insulin, rely on insulin injections to stay well.
Without these, their blood sugar would get dangerously high.
But injecting insulin can also make blood sugar levels dip too low, and people with type 1 diabetes must regularly check their blood glucose levels to make sure they are in the right zone.
Diabetes experts have been searching for ways to make blood sugar control easier and more convenient for patients, which is where "smart" insulins come in.
There are a few different types in development, but all are designed to automatically activate when blood sugar gets too high and switch off again when it returns to normal.
Dr Danny Chou from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been testing a smart insulin that he and his colleagues developed in the lab.
It is a chemically modified version of regular, long-acting insulin.
It has an extra set of molecules stuck on the end that binds it to proteins that circulate in the bloodstr Continue reading

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'Giant leap' to type 1 diabetes cure

'Giant leap' to type 1 diabetes cure

The hunt for a cure for type 1 diabetes has recently taken a "tremendous step forward", scientists have said.
The disease is caused by the immune system destroying the cells that control blood sugar levels.
A team at Harvard University used stem cells to produce hundreds of millions of the cells in the laboratory.
Tests on mice showed the cells could treat the disease, which experts described as "potentially a major medical breakthrough".
Beta cells in the pancreas pump out insulin to bring down blood sugar levels.
But the body's own immune system can turn against the beta cells, destroying them and leaving people with a potentially fatal disease because they cannot regulate their blood sugar levels.
It is different to the far more common type 2 diabetes which is largely due to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Perfect cocktail
The team at Harvard was led by Prof Doug Melton who began the search for a cure when his son was diagnosed 23 years ago. He then had a daughter who also developed type 1.
He is attempting to replace the approximately 150 million missing beta cells, using stem cell technology.
He found the perfect cocktail of chemicals to transform embryonic stem cells into functioning beta cells.
Tests on mice with type 1 diabetes, published in the journal Cell, showed that the lab-made cells could produce insulin and control blood sugar levels for several months.
Dr Melton said: "It was gratifying to know that we could do something that we always thought was possible.
"We are now just one pre-clinical step away from the finish line."
However, his children were not quite so im Continue reading

'Youngest' toddler with type 2 diabetes raises concern

'Youngest' toddler with type 2 diabetes raises concern

The case of a three-year-old girl in the US who developed type 2 diabetes has driven doctors to raise fresh concerns about diet in childhood.
The child had a version of the illness more commonly seen in older people.
She weighed 35 kg (5.5 stone) when she saw specialists. And experts believe an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise played a large role in her condition.
The case is being discussed at this month's annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
'Incorrect assumptions'
In the UK only 2% of children with diabetes have type 2 and the youngest patients on record are aged between five and nine.
Most children are instead diagnosed with type 1, a condition unrelated to lifestyle - where the immune system mistakenly attacks cells responsible for blood sugar control.
But type 2 diabetes is increasing across the world, fuelled in part by a rising tide of obesity.
Dr Michael Yafi at the University of Texas Health Science Center, one of the first specialists to see the toddler, warns young children with the condition may be being missed because of the incorrect assumption they are too young to develop it.
He added: "I'm very vigilant and screen all obese children I see for signs of the disease but I was surprised to find it in someone so young.
"The case is probably the youngest reported but with no global register it is hard to be sure."
He says an early diagnosis, changes to lifestyle and in some cases medication can give children better odds of remaining healthy and sometimes reverse the condition.
The Hispanic girl was been given treatment and her Continue reading

Blueberries, not fruit juice, cut type-2 diabetes risk

Blueberries, not fruit juice, cut type-2 diabetes risk

Eating more fruit, particularly blueberries, apples and grapes, is linked to a reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes, suggests a study in the British Medical Journal.
Blueberries cut the risk by 26% compared with 2% for three servings of any whole fruit - but fruit juice did not appear to have the same effect.
The research looked at the diets of more than 187,000 people in the US.
But Diabetes UK said the results of the study should be treated with caution.
Researchers from the UK, US and Singapore used data from three large studies of nurses and health professionals in the US to examine the link between fruit consumption and the risk of contracting type-2 diabetes.
In these studies, 6.5% of participants (12,198 out of 187,382) developed type-2 diabetes.
The studies used food frequency questionnaires to follow up the participants every four years, asking how often, on average, they ate a standard portion of each fruit.
The fruits used in the study were grapes or raisins, peaches, plums or apricots, prunes, bananas, cantaloupe, apples or pears, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and blueberries.
The researchers' analysis of the data showed that three servings per week of blueberries, grapes and raisins, and apples and pears significantly reduced the risk of type-2 diabetes.
While all fruit was shown to reduce the risk, these fruits appeared to be particularly effective.
The researchers said this could be due to the fact these fruits contain high levels of anthocyanins, which have been shown to enhance glucose uptake in mice. The same fruits contain naturally-occurring po Continue reading

Type 1 diabetes vaccine hailed as 'significant step'

Type 1 diabetes vaccine hailed as 'significant step'

It may be possible to reverse type 1 diabetes by training a patient's own immune system to stop attacking their body, an early trial suggests.
Their immune system destroys the cells that make insulin, the hormone needed to control blood sugar levels.
A study in 80 patients, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed a vaccine could retrain their immune system.
Experts described the results as a "significant step".
Normally a vaccine teaches the immune system to attack bacteria or viruses that cause disease, such as the polio virus.
We're very excited by these results, which suggest that the immunologist's dream of shutting down just a single subset of dysfunctional immune cells without wrecking the whole immune system may be attainableProf Lawrence Steinman, Stanford University Medical Centre
Researchers at the Stanford University Medical Centre used a vaccine with the opposite effect - to make the immune system cease its assault.
In patients with type 1 diabetes, the immune system destroys beta cells in the pancreas. This means the body is unable to produce enough insulin and regular injections of the hormone are needed throughout life.
It is a different disease to type 2 diabetes, which can be caused by an unhealthy diet.
The vaccine was targeted to the specific white blood cells which attack beta cells. After patients were given weekly injections for three months, the levels of those white blood cells fell.
'New concept'
Blood tests also suggested that beta cell function was better in patients given the vaccine than in those treated only with insulin Continue reading

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