Courtesy be_khe A person with diabetes cannot make insulin so insulin needs to be injected at the proper time and amount. Transplanting insulin producing cells called islets may solve the need for insulin injections. Transplanting human islet cells requires an appropriate donor and a lifetime of anti-rejection drugs. Not good.
Before 1980 insulin from pigs allowed people with diabetes to survive. Pig heart valves transplants also worked out in humans.
Scientists recently injected embryonic pig pancreatic cells into rats which grew to became the pancreas, which houses the islet cells that produce insulin. Eight weeks later islet cells from adult pigs were transplanted into that pancreatic tissue and were not rejected
The new research -- the first long-term, successful cross-species transplant of pig islets without immune suppression -- raises the prospect that it may one day be possible to cure diabetes in humans using a similar strategy. Science Dailey
Marc Hammerman and his colleagues at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are now beginning experimentation using the same methods on non-human primates.
University of North Carolina researchers have transformed cells from human skin into cells that produce insulin (click to read).
“Not only have we shown that we can reprogram skin cells, but we have also demonstrated that these reprogrammed cells can be differentiated into insulin-producing cells which hold great therapeutic potential for diabetes,” said study lead author Yi Zhang, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UNC and member of the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Courtesy Aki Hanninen
Injecting insulin with needles must be a pain for those with diabetes. Non-needle insulin delivery like inhalers or skin patches have not made it to market. Insulin via pills have failed because stomach acid destroys the insulin.
A new flexible hydrogel, when formed into 100 nanometer particles, can soak up insulin. The insulin within its cage-like structure is resistant to the biodegrading effects of stomach acid or enzymes. In a non-acid environment (like the intestines), the hydrogel swells and releases its insulin payload. When coated with a wheat-germ protein called agglutinin, the nanoparticles stick to the cells in the upper small intestine and helps the insulin get through the intestinal wall and into the blood stream. Animal trials of the gel are planned to start soon.
Diabetes already effects 200 million people world wide. I think the incidence of diabetes is going to sky rocket as the population gets fatter.
Fat molecules reduce the ability of muscle cells to respond to insulin, a phenomenon known as 'insulin resistance'. Most of us cope with this by producing more insulin, but people who develop diabetes can't, probably because fat molecules also disrupt the glucose-sensitive, insulin-producing ('beta') cells in their pancreas.
An important piece to the diabetes puzzle has been found by researchers at Garvan Institute.
A team from Garvan's Diabetes Signalling Unit, led by Associate Professor Trevor Biden and Dr Carsten Schmitz-Peiffer, has identified an enzyme known as "PKCepsilon" (PKCe) that is active during diabetes and blocks the availability of insulin.
"Our recent research shows that absence of PKCe restores the capacity of the pancreas to produce insulin, a result we were not expecting," said Schmitz-Peiffer.
"In PKCe, we believe we've identified a very important biological target that will enable us to address one of the major underlying causes of diabetes," said Biden.
Their findings have just been published in the prestigious international journal, Cell Metabolism.
Source: Garvan Institute press release