Approximately one or two out of every 250 Americans has Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, requiring daily injections of insulin. A few years ago we reported on a promising study in which type 1 diabetes was cured in mice using a nanotechnology-based vaccine. Now another species (not us, unfortunately) has also received a seemingly-permanent cure from a single session of therapy.
Dogs with chemically-induced type 1 diabetes were given a gene therapy treatment by Fàtime Bosch at the Universitat Autònama de Barcelona’s Center for Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy. The study included five beagles who received a single administration of the therapy.
These diabetic beagles (cool band name alert) then demonstrated blood sugar levels which remained normal over the course of four years. Bosch calls it the first study “to demonstrate a long-term cure for diabetes in a large animal model using gene therapy.”
The therapy used in the study actually included two different genes: one for glucokinase, an enzyme that acts as a “glucose sensor” in the muscle, and another for insulin, the hormone that causes sugar in the blood to be absorbed into cells to be used for energy. The genes worked in concert to detect high blood sugar levels and then produce insulin to promote the uptake of blood glucose into cells. [Singularity Hub]
Bosch plans to repeat the study with dogs who have naturally-occurring diabetes and who are pets with varied eating and playing times. This would more closely replicate how a therapy like this might work for a regular diabetic human with a varied lifestyle and diabetes which is not artificially created in the lab.
Nobody tell Wilford Brimley about all this. He needs those cushy testing supplies endorsement gigs to fund his raging mustache wax addiction and his armada of exploding horses.