COULD GUT CELLS SOMEDAY BE THE KEY TO CURING TYPE 1 DIABETES?

By admin
September 17, 2014

Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York are hopeful that cells inside the human gut might someday be retrained to produce insulin for people with type 1 diabetes.

In people with type 1 diabetes, the body’s natural insulin-producing cells are destroyed by their immune system. For the past 20 years, scientists have been trying to help the body make new insulin-producing cells that replace those that are lost to the disease.

Members of the scientific team at Columbia were able to turn off a particular gene (known as FOXO1) and convert gut cells to cells that make insulin. These genetically engineered cells began emitting insulin in about a week.

This study and others like it may form the basis of future development of insulin producing cells that could be used to cure type 1 diabetes. However, the research is very early and successful laboratory studies do not always translate to success in humans. The next step is to find a drug that can block the FOXO1 gene in the human gut.

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