For over 1.25 million people in the United States, diabetes controls their life. Individuals suffering from Type 1 diabetes are unable to produce insulin and are reliant on artificial insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. This autoimmune disease requires strict eating guidelines.
In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that are responsible for producing insulin. Scientists at UT Health San Antonio developed a procedure using a form of gene transfer to trick other cells in the pancreas into thinking they are beta cells.
These cells then begin producing insulin, but only in the presence of sugar – which is exactly how beta cells are supposed to work in a healthy pancreas!
The mice in this study have been cured of their diabetes for over a year with no side effects or signs of regression.
While there is still much to be done before the procedure is ready for human trials, this news is the most promising advance in diabetic treatments in quite some time.