Stories tagged diabetes

Researchers have developed several ways to potentially mass-produce silk without moths or spiders. The silk can be a hard solid, gel, liquid, sponge, or fiber, is stronger than kevlar, non-toxic, and biodegradable. It's perfectly clear and can be used to create plastics, optical sensors, medicine delivery capsules implanted inside the body--the applications are pretty huge and pretty green.

There's already a silk tissue scaffold on the market that can be used to regenerate ligaments or other damaged tissue--the scaffold is implanted into the body in place of damaged tissue, and as new tissue grows around it, the silk slowly breaks down into amino acids and is reused by the body. How cool is that?!


Transplants without anti-rejection drugs

Pig parts progress
Pig parts progressCourtesy 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.

Pigs to the rescue

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

Success in rats - next try non-human primates

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.

Learn more

The American journal of Pathology (click to see the research abstract).
Cure for Diabetes approaches reality Discovery News


Liver and pancreasCourtesy Jiju Kurian Punnoose

Liver cells could be reprogrammed as insulin factories

In the embryo, the pancreas and liver tissue develop from the same family of cells. Crucial for the creation of the pancreas in the embryo, is the Pdx-1 gene.

By infecting adult human liver cells with a harmless virus engineered to carry Pdx-1, the liver cells began produced Pdx-1 protein.

Sarah Ferber and her colleagues at the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, showed that the gene deactivates a range of genes relevant to the cell's function in the liver, as well as activating unexpressed genes vital for beta cell function (beta cells produce insulin).

The ultimate plan is to take liver cells from people with diabetes, reprogram the cells and reinject them. Because they are the patient's own, the cells should escape rejection by the immune system, sparing the individual a lifetime of daily insulin injections. "Potentially, patients can be donors of their own therapeutic tissue," says Ferber. New Scientist

Ferber is presenting the work on July 9 at an International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) meeting in Barcelona, Spain.

The annual cost of treating adult cases of diabetes in the United States nearly doubled between 2001 and 2007.

"Just because a drug is new or exploits a new mechanism does not mean that it adds clinically to treating particular diseases," said co-author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California. "And even if a new drug does have a benefit, it's important to consider whether that benefit is in proportion to the increased cost."

Read more about Randall Stafford's article in the Oct. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine: Costlier new diabetes drugs do not necessarily produce better outcomes

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.


Broccoli: The Super Food
Broccoli: The Super FoodCourtesy FIR0002
New research coming out of Britain shows eating broccoli may reverse damage done by diabetes to heart and blood vessels. I’m always glad to hear anything new about the benefits of broccoli. Not that I have diabetes – I don’t. But broccoli is my favorite vegetable, and besides its potentially new vascular benefits, the leafy vegetable is high in fiber, full of vitamins C and K, and nutrients that have been found to reduce the risk of some cancers. A member of the cabbage family (Brassica), broccoli, along with other vegetables in the genus (including brussel sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, kohlrabi, and mustard seed) has been linked to the reduction of strokes and heart attacks.

Diabetes is a serious metabolic disorder resulting in abnormally high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia). The disease can affect nearly every part of the body, and left untreated can lead to blindness, kidney failure, nerve damage, and loss of limb. Diabetics have up to 5 times the risk of suffering from vascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes because of damaged blood vessels.

The current research involves the anti-cancer compound sulforaphane, a product of another compound found in broccoli called glucoraphanin. Sulforaphane encourages production of enzymes that protect blood vessels, and reduce levels of cell-damaging molecules. When researchers at the University of Warwick tested the effects of sulforaphane on blood vessels damaged by hyperglycemia (high sugar levels), they noticed a nearly 75% reduction of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) molecules in the body. High levels of ROS -the result of increased blood sugar- can damage cells. The researchers noted sulforaphane also protected cells by triggering a protein that activated antioxidant enzymes.

“Our study suggests that compounds such as sulforaphane from broccoli may help counter processes linked to the development of vascular disease in diabetes,” said Professor Paul Thornalley of the University of Warwick. His team’s appears in the journal Diabetes. Thornalley added that he expects future tests of a brassica vegetable-rich diet could yield further health benefits for diabetic patients.

"It is encouraging to see that Professor Thornalley and his team have identified a potentially important substance that may protect and repair blood vessels from the damaging effects of diabetes,” said Dr Iain Frame, director of research at the charity Diabetes UK. "It also may help add some scientific weight to the argument that eating broccoli is good for you."

That brings to mind the time when the first president Bush said since he was president he didn’t have to eat broccoli anymore. (I think the quote was “Read my lips: no more broccoli”) Well, good for him. It just means more of the natural, leafy panacea for the rest of us.

BBC website story
American Diabetes Association
More on broccoli


The big D: Research continues to shed light on the role vitamin D plays in our bodies.
The big D: Research continues to shed light on the role vitamin D plays in our bodies.Courtesy Leo Reynolds

We've talked beforeon Science Buzz about the link between sunlight, vitamin D and cancer. Well, the story just won't go away...

Here's more evidence that sunlight = vitamin D = a healthier life.

And research that shows vitamin D can reduce the risk of diabetes.

And also reduce risk of a heart attack.

But, just to keep things balanced, here's a report that vitamin D doesn’t do everything – some of the health benefits claimed for the vitamin don’t stand up to research

And here’s a summary of the pros and cons of vitamin D and sun exposure.


You want fries with that?: A high-fat diet may be helpful for some diseases. But it’s still a bad idea to pig out on fat, grease, starch and sugar.
You want fries with that?: A high-fat diet may be helpful for some diseases. But it’s still a bad idea to pig out on fat, grease, starch and sugar.Courtesy pointnshoot

(With apologies to Woody Allen.)

Researchers in England have found that a high-fat diet is effective in reducing seizures among epileptics.

Meanwhile, doctors in Boston report that having fat around your bottom may help prevent diabetes.

*NOTE: as with all medical news, we here at Science Buzz are not qualified to give medical advice. If you suffer from epilepsy or diabetes, consult with your doctor before changing your diet. And if you do not suffer from these diseases, DO NOT use this news item as an excuse to pig out. Really, the basic fast food meal of a burger, fries and a soft drink is just about the worst thing you can put in your body, short of arsenic.


No needles insulin
No needles insulinCourtesy Aki Hanninen

Using needles is a pain

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.

Stomach-proof gel hints at jab-free diabetes treatment

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.

New Scientist Tech
American Chemical Society (Abstract of paper published in Biomacromolecules)


Hookworms in the lining of the intestines: All together now: "ewwwwwwwwwwww."
Hookworms in the lining of the intestines: All together now: "ewwwwwwwwwwww."Courtesy Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Cleanliness is next to godliness, but is it possible to have too much of a good thing? For several decades, immunological diseases -- such as hay fever, asthma, diabetes and multiple sclerosis – have been increasing in developed countries, but are uncommon in many undeveloped regions. Medical researcher Joel Weinstock theorizes that modern life is too clean – by scrupulously avoiding dirt, bugs and germs, our immune systems don’t develop properly, leading to the diseases listed above. Weinstock goes so far as to speculate that exposure to hookworm, pinworm, and other intestinal parasites may have been the trigger necessary for developing a healthy immune system. As these parasites have been eradicated, immunological diseases have skyrocketed.

The theory is currently being tested in the lab. Weinstock doesn’t advocate the return of worm infestations. But he does think that getting your hands dirty once in a while can help keep your body in balance.